Vast majority of members of the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament asked the European Commission for immediate action, to start the infringement procedure regarding the violations of several directives in prolongation process of open pit mine in Turow. The calls for action were heard today at the meeting of the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament during the discussion of petition against the Turów mine, which was signed by more than 13,000 people in a few months. The Committee will elaborate further on the petition, ask the Commission to update it on the proceedings and will send the letter to Poland asking for explanations.
The petitioners (Liberec region, 10 municipalities and Greenpeace Czech Republic) were represented by legal company Frank Bold who provided support in the case for the local authorities and citizens concerned. Also, a resident of Czech village Uhelná, Mr. Starec was present. They informed the PETI Committee that all possible legal steps were taken without any effect as Poland goes around the EU Directives systemically and brought the testimonies of families and farmers that are living without access to potable water already today.
The European Commission was represented by Aurel Ciobanu Dordea, who informed the Committee that European Commission has already enough information and good understanding about the case. The plan of commission for next six months is to carry out a process of “moderating” the discussion between the Poland and Czech republic based on article 12 of European Water Framework Directive. According to his words, the Commission feels optimistic about this procedure.
However, petitioners together with the majority of members of the Committee did not find this advancement sufficient as the discussion based on the art. 12 of the WFD does not deal with the prolongation of the mining license itself which is violating a number of directives in a fundamental way.
“Despite all the different discussions about the Turów mine in past years the mining license was already prolonged and the illegal mining is already happening for months now. The water is running away each day and the mine is coming 70 metres from the Liberec region in only 2 years. Waiting six months for the result of another discussion in such an urgent situation is truly insufficient, there is nothing more to wait for,” stated Petra Urbanová lawyer from Frank Bold.
Vast majority of the Discussing Members of European Parliament supported the petitioners and called for faster action to ensure that thousands of Czech and German families that are endangered by the lack of potable water in the middle of the health and climate crisis will be protected.
The German MEP Peter Jahr showed his concerns regarding the lack of communication and exchange of information from the Polish side during the process and expressed the need to look really closely to this petition by the European Parliament.
Spanish MEP Cristina Maestre pointed out that this case is also an issue of fundamental rights of EU citizens and it is important that the Commission moves forward with this case.
Slovak MEP Martin Hojsík urged the commision to act as soon as possible, as this problem is not the future one but is happening already now.
The German MEP Anna Cavazzini pointed out that it makes no sense to work on european Green Deal and path to carbon neutrality, when at the same time there is a process to prolong mining of coal until 2044.
Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský stressed out that this case is not against the Polish people and stressed out that citizens were not heard and their comments to the project not answered.
Vice president of the Committee Tatjana Ždanoka said Commision should act now and not in 6 months.
The mining in the open pit mine Turów was prolonged despite the negative statement of the Czech Republic and disagreement of the local citizens who are fighting the water scarcity due to the mining already today. Number of directives were violated in the process of prolongation. Polish majority state owned company PGE denies both negative impacts on the Czech Republic together with paying any compensations for measures that must be taken at the Czech Republic due to the decades of the water drainage. Initial estimations are calculating around EUR 80 millions.
The full footage of Committee is available here: https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/es/peti-committee-meeting_20200714-0900-COMMITTEE-FEMM_vd
The stories of Czech citizens struggling with water are available here: www.waterorcoal.org