EC to deduct Turow mine fine from Poland's allotment of EU funds

Poland may see its share EU funds reduced by the amount of fines it has refused to pay for the country's failure to shut down a disputed lignite mine, PAP has learnt from the European Commission (EC).

Poland was ordered on Monday by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to pay a fine of EUR 500,000 per day for not halting operations at the Turow open-cast lignite mine, in violation of the EU court's earlier ruling.

Polish officials said the country will not pay the fine, and the prime minister called the penalty "radically aggressive and harmful."

"The Court's interim measures rulings are binding," the EC told PAP.

According to the EC, if a member state is fined by the CJEU, it has a duty to pay the amount to the EU budget.

"If the payment is not made (by a given date) and after allowing the member state to provide explanations, the financial penalty must be retrieved by deducting it from the payments that the member state is eligible to receive," the EC said, without specifying the deadline in Poland's case.

The EC did not explain, either, whether the deduction will be made from regular EU funds or from the EU's post-pandemic Recovery Fund.

The CJEU ruling said the Turow mine must be closed due to its environmental impact on ground waters, which affect Czechs living across the border from Poland.

Since May, when Poland was first ordered to halt the mine's operation, the country has failed to do so while negotiations with the Czech government have not produced an agreement.

Poland's prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said on Tuesday that Poland will not shut down the disputed mine as this would deprive millions of households of electricity.