Commissioner Sinkevičius answered the question from MEP Zdechovský re. Turów mine
"The Turów coal mine is located on the Czech-Polish-German border. Mining was set to come to an end by 30 April 2020. However, the mine operator PGE GIEK S.A. has decided to extend production until 2044, covering 30 km2 and going 330 metres below ground level. Mining activity will have a demonstrably negative impact on the source of drinking water for approximately 30 000 inhabitants in the Czech Republic. In 2019, a transboundary impact assessment was conducted in accordance with the ESPOO Convention, in which the Czech Republic issued a negative opinion regarding the impact of continued mining at the Turów Mine. Nevertheless, in January 2020, the Regional Director of Nature Conservation in Wrocław issued a decision on environmental conditions for the project to continue mining the Turów coal deposit in which he gave his approval for the continuation of mining. In relation to EU law, there has been a violation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, namely Articles 16, 37 and 41, a violation of Article 191 TFEU, a violation of the principle of sincere cooperation enshrined in the TEU, a failure to respect Directive 92/43/EEC on the protection of animals and plants, and a violation of Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy.
Given this action, the disregarding of the Czech Republic’s position and the environmental impact assessment, and the violation of EU law, is the Commission monitoring this issue, and will it take active steps in this matter?"
"As the Commission pointed out in its reply to Written Question E -003916/2019 , the primary responsibility for authorising projects and correctly implementing EC law lies with the public authorities of the Member States and if necessary may involve intervention by the courts.
It is therefore in the first place for the competent Polish authorities to apply the EC law in specific situations and for the relevant economic operators to comply with the obligations defined by the EU rules. At the same time, the Commission stands ready to take swift action where needed.
Regarding the case of the Turów lignite mine, it should be noted that even if the environmental decision has been taken, the development consent decision authorising the prolongation of the Turów lignite mine operation has not been issued yet because the deliberations of the competent authorities have not yet been concluded. According to the information available, Czech environmental organisations were allowed to appeal against the extension of the mine.
Yet, the Commission closely follows up the developments related to this case, including based on information from complaints received. In this respect, on 24 February 2020 the Commission launched an EU Pilot in order to assess the compliance with the obligations resulting from EU environmental law."