Russian coal embargo may cause lawsuits, says gov't spokesperson
Poland risks being sued for breach of free-market rules enshrined in EU treaties if it imposes an embargo on Russian coal, the government's spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, announced on Wednesday that it would be possible to end the import of Russian coal in May thanks to a draft law the government has sent to the Sejm, the lower house of parliament.
The bill provides among other things for a ban on the import or transit of coal from the Russian Federation and Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.
Speaking about the bill during a press conference, Piotr Mueller, the government spokesperson, said the government was invoking a security clause.
He added the new rules would enable coal imports to be halted en route to other markets such as Germany.
"We realise the risk that results from this clause," Mueller said. "What we are doing at the moment is - and we're aware of it - a huge risk for Poland when it comes to accountability before the European Court of Justice.
"There is a risk of being sued by German companies, by other companies, who will believe it is a breach of treaty rules on the free market and unfortunately some points in the treaties will apply to this type of action, that's why we are appealing for Germany and other countries to introduce similar rules," Mueller said.
On the subject of whether coal from Belarus should also be embargoed as it may have been reloaded from Russia, Mueller said: "It's about the place of origin. That's why the National Tax Administration and customs services will verify it. If there is the slightest doubt, under that law, they should stop the goods until it is clarified."
Morawiecki has said that a gas port at Świnoujscie and the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline, as well as a floating gas terminal near the Baltic city of Gdańsk, would enable Poland to be independent of Russia gas this year. The prime minister also called on the EU to impose a tax on Russian hydrocarbons.