Czechs near Turów mine want EC involved in talks with Poland

Martin Divisek/PAP/EPA

A grouping of Czech residents of towns near the Turów lignite mine, which lies close to the Polish-Czech border, has asked the European Commission to take part in Czech-Polish negotiations over the mine's future.

The Uhelna Neighbourly Association also criticised the negotiations' lack of transparency and expressed concern over their slow pace.

The Turów mine has been the subject of a complaint to the EU by the Czech Republic, which claims plans to extend it threaten the environment and, especially, ground water on the Czech side of the border.

Uhelna is the town closest to the Turów open-cast mine. In a letter addressed to EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius, residents of the town proposed that EC officials take part in the talks.

They said this would ensure that EU law is observed in the discussions and would protect Czech territory and Czech people from environmental harm.

The association pointed out that at the start of the talks in Prague on June 17, the Polish side had claimed the dispute could be resolved outside European institutions. But the authors of the letter claim it is impossible to reach an agreement without the participation of the EC.

They also claim that the parties have failed to provide adequate information about the negotiations and do not present measures that would protect the mine's neighbourhood.

The talks are expected to lead to an agreement which would define the conditions under which the Czech Republic would withdraw a complaint lodged with the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in February.

In May, the CJEU demanded an immediate halt to mining at Turów under interim measures until a verdict is issued. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the court's move as unprecedented and contrary to basic EU principles.