The lawsuit presented by the Czech Republic at the European Court of Justice was officially published in the EU Official Journal. This means a six-week period during which other member states may intervene in the proceedings. We may expect a voice on the part of Germany, whose citizens, just as the Czechs, are exposed to the destructive operations of the Polish opencast. It is possible that other countries will join in, those where the voice of the Green Party opposing to the open-pit mine is well-heard.
On April, 19, 2021, the lawsuit presented by the Czech Republic at the European Court of Justice was officially published in the EU Official Journal. During the following six weeks other EU countries will be able to intervene in the lawsuit.
Huge pressure to support the Czech lawsuit is also put on its government by the citizens of Saxony, who are also suffering from the activity of the Polish mine. The claim could also be supported by the German federal government. Will other countries join in the conflict around the open-cast? It is possible. It may be recalled here that on the 6th of December, 2020, European Green Party adopted a resolution “For a European Future without coal - stop the Turów coal mine”. The Greens are members of government coalitions in Austria, Finland, Ireland, Luxemburg and Sweden, it may thus mean that those countries may want to join in the Turów case.
On April, 13, the German activists protested in front of the office building of Saxon prime minister in Dresden. They demanded a response to an open letter sent in March to Michael Kretschmer, the prime minister of Saxony. According to the activists, Saxony should support the Czech process regarding Turów before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
One of the Protestants, Wolfgang Domeyer from Greenpeace Oberlausitz stressed that the plans regarding any further complex operations go against the CO2 emissions reduction goals in the EU.
The conflict around Turów was also commented by the German mayor of Zittau, Thomas Zenker, who expressed his hope that the transition would go parallely to the process of the transformation of the Lusatian region on the German side of the border. He is also counting on a clear decision regarding the future after the exploitation in Turów will have ended.
On March, 23, 2021 a group of MPs made an interpellation to the Minister of National Assets requesting that the PGE Board of Directors is asked to disclose data regarding, among others, the employment age structure both in the power plant and the mine. Until now Polska Grupa Energetyczna hasn't disclosed publicly any such data.
As per the information provided by the ministry, in the mine and Turów power plant there are 3,536 employed, at present. 306 of them are 61 years old or older. Those people by 2026 will have retired.
By 2030, 884, that is 1/4 of today's’ employees employed in both the mine and the power plant, will be of retirement age.
What is more, the response to the interpellation contains false information disseminated by PGE, for instance those claiming that “the jobs directly in the Mine and Power Plant, in the subsidiaries and cooperating entities sustain even 80 thousand people”. At the same time, in the document clearly states that at the moment, in the Turów power station 3 536 people are employed, whereas the in mine and the power plant together with their subsidiaries “there are 5 thousand jobs”.
Therefore, it is clear that the government, instead of presenting the facts and dealing with the issue in an unbiased manner, represents the business of the company, whose gaining is more important than the well-being of the region. PGE and the government have repeatedly opposed to the: immediate closure of the mine and the power station Turów, but they fail to present any scenarios of a gradual closure of the complex in 2026 or 2030. Thus, they are limiting access to funds from Just Transition Fund for the region and they are keeping its inhabitants in an unrealistic belief in the existence of Turów until 2044.
Unfortunately, it seems that most of Polish media repeats the PGE’s message without a second thought, instead of analysing the problem in depth.
Zgorzelec District Council adopted a position regarding support for the actions undertaken in order to provide further stable operations for the Turów Lignite Mine.
“Zgorzelec District Council, with a view to the well-being of the residents of the district, in particular the residents of Bogatynia district, issued an application, through Piotr Roman - President of Nysa Euroregion, to the municipal board of municipalities and districts that form NYSA Euroregion, to ask for support for the actions undertaken in order to provide further stable functioning of the Turów Lignite Mine in Bogatynia and support for local authorities of Turoszów Basin applying for financial funds from Just Transition Fund” - we read in the council resolution from April, 1sth, 2021.
In the application, a request was put for support by the euroregion municipalities of the Zgorzelec district appeal to obtain funds from Just Transition Funds.
Photo: Greenpeace Oberlausitz