CJEU had no right to fine Poland over Turów mine - justice min

"We are dealing with unlawful conduct on the part of the CJEU by assuming powers that are not granted to the CJEU by the European treaties," Ziobro said. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Europe's top court had no power to impose a penalty on Poland for not halting work at the disputed Turów mine during the pending stage of proceedings, the justice minister has said.

On Monday, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered the Polish government to pay a daily fine of EUR 500,000 for not following a May 21 ruling demanding a stop to operations at the Turów open-cast lignite mine, which lies on the border with Germany and the Czech Republic.

The Czech authorities had gone to the court owing to claims the mine has a negative impact on local groundwater.

Following the CJEU's Monday decision, Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said the Polish government would not shut down the Turów mine.

On Friday, Poland started the 13th round of talks with the Czech Republic over the contested mine.

Zbigniew Ziobro told a Friday press conference that "as a lawyer and minister of justice, I can say that Prime Minister (Mateusz) Morawiecki, while conducting negotiations, stood on the ground of European treaties, which certainly guaranteed that the CJEU would not be able to use the so-called penalty against Poland at the stage of proceedings still pending before the Court."

Ziobro pointed out a specific provision of the EU treaty, where it literally says that penalties can be applied, but once a ruling is issued.

"Then, such a ruling, if not implemented, may be reinforced by a criminal or financial sanction," he said.

Therefore, he added, it follows from this treaty that "the CJEU did not have the right to impose this kind of penalty at the pending stage of the proceedings."

"We are dealing with unlawful conduct on the part of the CJEU by assuming powers that are not granted to the CJEU by the European treaties," Ziobro said.