Poland Presses Czechs to Drop Suit Threatening Power System

Poland wants its neighbor, the Czech Republic, to withdraw a lawsuit from the European Union’s top court over a coal mine whose shutdown would destabilize the country’s power system.

The Polish government reacted with anger on Friday after the EU tribunal said that Poland should immediately stop operations at the Turow coal mine -- wedged between Czech and Germany -- until a final ruling is issued in the case regarding the impact of the vast lignite pit on underground water.

Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin reiterated on Monday that the court’s instructions were “impossible to implement” and announced talks with the Czech government about withdrawing the lawsuit or appealing the interim order. Poland is the EU’s most coal dependent nation.

“Of course, we will talk to the Czechs -- even today the negotiations are being conducted,” Sasin told reporters in Plock, Poland. “We are also preparing an application to the court for changing the remedial measures.”

The Turow mine and its nearby power plant, both owned by state-controlled PGE SA, generates electricity for about 3 million households in the industrial south-west, or as much as 7% of the country’s output. Shutting the plant may force Poland to import more electricity from its European neighbors.

Poland Presses Czechs to Drop Suit Threatening Power System

The Polish Power Grid, known by its acronym PSE, said on Monday that the potential halt of Turow could overload parts of the country’s electrical system and create instability, echoing comments from PGE.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will meet Czech counterpart Andrej Babis in Brussels on Monday to discuss a conciliatory solution, and keep the mine and power plant operational.

“We are open to talks and negotiations, but our position on keeping the power plant open remains unchanged,” Morawiecki told reporters on Monday. “It’s interesting that our Czech and German neighbors are disturbed by our lignite power plant but on the other sides of the border there are such mines and they don’t alarm anyone.”

Czech Republic gets about 40% of its electricity from burning brown coal, while in Germany it accounts for less than 20%. German lignite mines located close to the border with Poland are controlled jointly by Czech’s Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding AS and PPF Investments.

The Czech government, which last week called the EU order a “victory,” didn’t appear eager to iron out a quick compromise.

“The verdict is crystal-clear,” Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek told a press briefing. “We’re now heading for complicated negotiations.”

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