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'Absolutely not!' Poland doubles down on war with EU despite order of hefty fines

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The European Union’s top court told Poland to halt operations at the Turow mine on the border with the Czech Republic after Prague complained of environmental damage in Czech villages, which would also mean closing a nearby power plant.

But Warsaw is still defying the European Court of Justice (ECJ) order from May.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “We absolutely do not intend to stop the operations of the mine, the operations of the power plant.

“The mine and the power plant provide electricity, heat to hundreds of thousands of Polish households.

“It is possible to end this dispute amicably with the Czech side…

“I hope that in January these negotiations will move forward, maybe even earlier, but I would not like to anticipate the facts here.”

In November, the Czech environment ministry said a new proposal from Poland on the settlement of a dispute was unacceptable, adding it would have to be discussed with the incoming government formed earlier this month following October’s election.

The row is also exacerbating the already-frail relations between Poland and Brussels.

In October, the ECJ ordered Warsaw to pay a €1 million fine per day for maintaining a disciplinary chamber for judges.

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The long-running conflict over Poland’s judicial reforms – which the bloc says undermine the independence of the courts – deepened this year, raising questions over the future place of the EU’s largest eastern member in the union.

The ruling read: “In the ruling issued today, the Vice-President of the Tribunal obliged Poland to pay…a penalty payment of EUR 1 million per day, counting from the date on which this ruling was delivered to Poland.”

Ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS) say the European Union executive, the European Commission, is overstepping its mandate by trying to stop its judicial reforms.

At the request of Prime Minister Morawiecki, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal examined whether certain elements of the EU treaties were compatible with the Polish constitution.

Earlier in October, the Tribunal said they were not, in a ruling critics said created an existential problem for the bloc by questioning the primacy of EU law, a tenet of European integration.

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The row saw the EU withholding Poland’s recovery funds this year.

European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said at the beginning of December: “The approval work is ongoing. It is unlikely that we will be able to finalise it this year.”

He spoke at the end of the meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels.

If the plans had been approved, Poland would have been entitled to a first instalment of 13 percent of the total of €23.9 billion in subsidies it is due to receive over the next five years.



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