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Czech Republic v Poland (Mine de Turów)

Jurisdiction: European General Court


Side A: Czech Republic (Government)


Side B: Poland (Government)


Side C: European Commission (Government)


Core objectives: Whether Poland infringed Directive 2011/92 of the European Parliament and the Council on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of certain public and private projects by adopting national legislation which allowed the competent authorities to extend the license for lignite mining without carrying out the EIA


Summary
The case concerns the operation of the Turów lignite mine that supplies lignite to 1984 MW Turów power plant, both owned by the Polish Energy Group (PGE). Emitting almost 10 million tonnes of CO2 each year, the plant has been on EU’s list of power plants with the highest negative impact on climate for years. The axis of the dispute was admittedly the negative impact on groundwater in Czech Republic.

In 1994, the mine obtained a concession to extract lignite until 2020. In 2015, it requested an extension of the concession for six years. According to the Polish legislation, the extension was possible without conducting an EIA. In March 2020, the mine received the requested prolongation until 2026. On September 30, 2020, the Czech Republic took Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) (the General Court) under Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), arguing that Poland’s extension of the concession was unlawful because no EIA had been conducted, as required by EU Directive 2011/92. In February 2021, the Czech Republic asked the CJEU for interim measures, requesting the immediate closure of activities of the lignite mine. The CJEU granted the interim measures by Order of the Vice-President of the Court of 21 May 2021. However, Poland did not comply with that order. On September 20, 2021, the CJEU ordered Poland to pay the European Commission a penalty of EUR 500,000 per day from the date of notification until that Member State complies with the order. 

On February 3, 2022, the Court of Justice’s Advocate General (AG) Prita Pikamäe stated in his opinion that Poland had violated the EIA Directive. On February 4, 2022, the Czech Republic informed the CJEU that as a result of the settlement reached with Poland on the dispute, it waived all claims. Consequently, the court struck the case from the register by an order of the same date.

Form of order sought:
The applicant claimed that the Court should rule that the Republic of Poland (inter alia):
• by allowing the extension by 6 years of the development consent for the extraction of lignite without conducting an environmental impact assessment,
• by allowing the exclusion of the public concerned from the procedure for the grant of development consent for extraction activity,
• by declaring the EIA decision to be immediately enforceable,
• by failing to allow the intervention of the public concerned and of the Czech Republic in the procedure for the grant of the mining development consent until 2026,
• by failing to enable judicial review of the mining development consent granted until 2026,
• by failing to publish the mining development consent granted until 2026, has failed to fulfil its obligations under Directive 2011/92.

Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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