Ruling party scorns European Commission's demands for payment of fines

A spokesperson for Poland's ruling party, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, has described demands by the European Commission (EC) that Poland pays fines levied on it for failing to shut down a lignite mine as "groundless and unfair".

Last year, the Czech government took Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) over the alleged negative cross-border environmental impact of the Turow lignite mine, which lies close to the Czech border in south-west Poland. In September 2021, the CJEU imposed a daily fine of EUR 500,000 on Poland for failing to suspend operations at the mine.

The European Commission said on Thursday that two summons to pay the fines had been sent to Poland but no money had yet been received by the EC.

PiS spokeswoman Anita Czerwinska expressed her outrage at the EC's comments at a press conference later on Thursday.

"We will certainly not agree to several thousand people in the region being deprived of electricity and jobs," she said, calling the EC's actions "absolutely groundless and unfair".

Polish government spokesperson Piotr Mueller struck a defiant tone saying that "we are prepared to cover the costs of Turow's defence."

Mueller said that the Polish government "does not agree" with the CJEU decision to impose fines on Warsaw as the decision "goes beyond the EU competence.

"If the European Commission ultimately decides to deduct the fines from EU funds transferred to the Polish budget, which we believe violates EU law, then of course it can do it, but the energy security of Poles is the most important thing for us," Mueller said.

The Polish government maintains the fines are unjust and refuses to pay up.