Poland and the Czech Republic sign agreement on Turów

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Czech counterpart Petr Fiala signed an agreement on the Turów lignite mine in Prague on Thursday. “The Turów mine and power plant will continue to operate without obstacles,” the head of the Polish government said. “I hope that today or tomorrow the Czech Republic will withdraw its complaint on Turów from the Court of Justice in Luxembourg,” he added.

Mateusz Morawiecki stressed that the signing of the agreement is a big success, fundamentally important from a strategic point of view. “It ends the period of freezing of very good Polish-Czech relations. (...) Today we open this new chapter in a very good mood,” he stated, adding that this was also important in regards to the threat from Russia, which is felt on the eastern flank of NATO.

Terms of the agreement

The agreement consists of several key elements including:

Carrying out earthworks that will limit environmental damage and protect the region’s inhabitants.

Putting the mine under environmental monitoring until mining is completed.

Setting up a fund to provide subsidies for projects including environmental protection in the region.

Paying a total of EUR 45 million in compensation to the Czech Republic, EUR 10 million of which will be paid by the PGE Foundation.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced that Poland agreed to construct a barrier that will prevent the outflow of groundwater from the Czech Republic to Poland, and build an earth embankment, which would protect the region’s residents from air, noise and dust pollution.
Turów lignite mine and power plant. Photo: PAP/Maciej Kulczyński

“Noise levels, air pollution, landslides and groundwater levels will be monitored until the Turów mine ceases production,” the head of the Czech government added.

The origins of the dispute

Polish-Czech talks over the Turów lignite mine began in June 2021 after the Czech side filed a complaint against Poland to the CJEU over the expansion of the mine. At the same time, Prague demanded a halt to mining at the mine as a so-called interim measure. The Czech side believes that the mine’s expansion threatens the access to water for residents of the Liberec region in the Czech Republic; they also complain about noise and dust associated with the mine’s operations.

On September 20, 2021, the CJEU fined Poland EUR 500,000 per day for failing to implement the interim measure and not stopping lignite mining at the mine. The Polish government declares that it does not intend to pay the penalty.