When the Czech government announced it was taking Poland to Europe’s highest court it came as a surprise to Warsaw. After all, EU countries rarely sue one another. Prague’s demand is a politically explosive one.
Not only is it challenging the extension of mining activity at Turów, a vast lignite mine that has been in operation for nearly 100 years, it also wants the European court of justice to order its immediate closure.
Sandwiched between Germany and the Czech Republic in the Silesia region of south-west Poland, the open-pit mine is depleting the groundwater supplies of its neighbours and violates EU environmental law, the Czech government alleges.
On the Czech and German sides of the border, communities blame Turów for draining their water and causing dangerous levels of air and noise pollution.
The Polish government vigorously disputes the environmental claims. Government officials in Warsaw and the state-owned utility company PGE, which owns Turów, also maintain they have been in regular consultation with Prague and that there was no reason to escalate the dispute.