Monday, 6 Dec 2021

‘Only pensioners&delinquents will stay’ EU’s coal fine slammed as Poland future questioned

EU member states 'questioning union' following Poland clash

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The European Union hit Poland with an order to pay a €500,000 (£422,447) daily penalty until the coal mine of Turów stops operation, a demand Warsaw has refused to comply with. Brussels has been leading efforts to combat climate change, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warning the world is reaching the “moment of truth” ahead of the COP26 Summit. But Polish residents whose towns depend on the presence of coal mines have hit back at EU demands, warning young workers will be forced to flee the country to seek employment.

A resident in the town of Bogatynia, near the Czech border, told Sky News: “Young people will manage because Europe is open to them.

“Only pensioners and delinquents will stay.

“In this natural and ugly way, Bogatynia and other towns will meet their death.”

Another resident warned up to 6,000 jobs in the town alone could be lost should the Turów mine be forced to close.

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He said: “Here for example 3,000 or 4,000 people would lose their jobs in the coal mine and another 2,000 in the power plant.”

Poland still heavily relies on coal for its energy, with up to 75 percent of its resources coming directly from coal.

Rafa Skorupiski, Chief Engineer of the Turów mine, said the country could probably survive “150 years” still without having to make any use of renewable energy.

Mr Skorupiski said: “Relying on coal alone, Poland could do without renewable energy for some 150 years.

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“The fundamental thing is this: it’s what comes out of the chimney that matters and not what you put in the furnace.

“Turów and Bełchatów power plants meet all the best available technology criteria as far as emissions are concerned.”

The European Union was first forced to intervene after residents in bordering Czechia warned the expansion of the mine in recent mines put their water reserves under threat.

The fine is expected to put pressure on Warsaw into reaching an agreement with Prague following the breakdown of bilateral talks in the summer.

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However, Poland has hit back at the penalty order as they warned the fine could undermine future talks with the neighbouring country.

In a statement issued following the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the Polish Government said: “The fine mentioned by the Court of Justice of the European Union is disproportionate to the situation and is not justified by facts,”

“It undermines the ongoing process of reaching an amicable settlement.”

The CJEU agreed to a fine after Prague initially demanded a penalty payment of 5 million.

Delivering their decision, the judges said: “Such a measure appears necessary in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the interim measures decided upon in the order of 21 May 2021 and to deter that member state from delaying bringing its conduct into line with that order.”

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