Only the 9th time in the history of the EU one Member State sues another because of EU law violations. First time because of environmental harm and first time Czech republic is involved suing Poland because of a coal mine. The lawsuit could have been avoided if European Commission did react to complaints and numerous calls to act on this issue.
One member state suing the other one is quite a rare situation as 99.9% of the breaches of law are dealt with by European Commission which, in case that the Member State concerned does not remedy the violations in question, then turns to the European Court of Justice itself. The role of European Commission within the EU is to be the main guardian of compliance of Member States' actions and legislation with EU law and enforcing EU law once there is a breach.
“European Commission itself confirmed there was a violation of law in the Turow case and that there is sufficient ground to consider that Poland has committed some of the alleged infringements. We do not understand why it did not act,” said Nikol Krejčová, campaigner from Greenpeace Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic officially filed a lawsuit today after repeated failures to negotiate an out of court settlement with Poland. Czechia has been stating that they are ready to withdraw the lawsuit at any time until the final decision of European Court of Justice is issued under condition that Poland will provide them with a stable source of drinking water and compensation.
“The illegal mining has extended every day and the negative impacts have worsened. The water has lost, the subsidence has continued, the right of European citizens have been violated. The justice has to come immediately,” said somebody
“The lawsuit brought by Czechia does not cover all the problems we face in Turow. The Court's decision will not remedy the breaches of law incurred in the case and systemic violations of EU law embodied within Polish legal system as it would deal only with the arguments brought up by Czech authorities which are only one piece of the puzzle seeking protection for its citizens. We still expect the Commission will start to act, as the case is bigger than this,” said Petra Urbanová, lawyer at Frank Bold Society, NGO providing support to impacted communities.
The European Commission has been approached regarding the Turów mining already a year ago with a legal complaint by the Czech Liberec region, which has been impacted by severe dewatering. At the same time, Czech communities approached the European Parliament with a petition supported by over 13 thousands people. Also, a number of Members of European Parliament repeatedly called on the European Commission to take action and enforce the compliance of Poland with EU law in open letters and in the European Parliament. Last but not least, Saxony citizens and representatives filed their own legal complaint in January 2021 as they are also facing violations of EU law and severe impacts on the environment.