Polish, Czech governments sign deal on lignite mine

Publish Date : 2022-02-22

Polish, Czech governments sign deal on lignite mine

The prime ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic said on Thursday they have signed an agreement settling a long-running dispute over a lignite mine on the border of the two countries.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the agreement means that Poland’s Turow open-pit mine and the adjacent Turow power plant, which is fueled by the mine, will continue to operate without obstacles.

Last year the Czech Republic took the dispute to the European Court of Justice, arguing that Poland had ignored its protests and the mine was draining water from Czech villages, causing excessive noise and causing other environmental harm.

The European Court of Justice ordered Poland to close the colliery pending its ruling, and in September imposed a fine of 500,000 euros for each day the mine continues to operate. Poland refused to pay the fine and said it could not close the mine, which supplies a power plant that generates almost 9% of the nation’s energy. The fine has grown to over 68 million euros.

Morawiecki and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, speaking at a joint news conference in Prague on Thursday, said the agreement after months of talks was a “success” that allows the neighbors to return to good relations.

“We have very hard negotiations behind us,” Fiala said. “Very long negotiations with a successful result.”

Under the agreement, Poland is to pay the Czech Republic 45 million euros compensation, 10 million of which will go to environmental projects in the mine’s neighborhood. Under supervision from the European court, both sides will monitor the proper functioning of a deep barrier that Poland is building in the area to prevent water drainage on the Czech side. Poland is to build an earth wall to stop the noise and dirt spreading.

The European Commission said on Thursday that the daily penalties will continue to accrue until the Czech Republic withdraws the case. Spokesman Adalbert Jahnz added that “any penalties that are due up until that date would remain due.”

The EU’s executive said it has not received any money from Poland despite sending four calls for payment.

On Thursday, a European Court of Justice official, the advocate general, said that Poland infringed European Union law with a decision to grant the Turow mine a six-year license extension without carrying out an environmental impact study.

The opinion was issued as part of the court’s procedure ahead of a verdict, which had been expected later this year.

Morawiecki said he hopes that very soon, maybe even on Thursday, Prague will withdraw the case from the European Court of Justice and the issue will be “closed” for good.

Fiala said the case will be withdrawn as soon as Poland pays the compensation money.

The EU earlier this month started the process to deduct millions of euros from payments to Poland in order to cover fines imposed on Warsaw for ignoring the court injunction. The first payment amounts to 15 million euros ($17 million) plus 30,000 euros in interest.

Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street as Facebook parent company Meta plunges 25%, erasing more than $220 billion in market value, the largest drop in history. Meta sank after reporting a rare decline in profit due to a sharp increase in expenses. Meta also forecast revenue well below analysts’ expectations for the current quarter, a disappointment for a company that investors have become accustomed to delivering spectacular growth. The huge drop pulled the tech-heavy Nasdaq index down 1.9%. The S&P 500 also sank 1.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5%. Markets are coming off a four-day winning streak.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. markets pointed lower Thursday with tech stocks weighing down broader indexes after a weak quarterly earnings report from Facebook parent company Meta.

The numbers from Meta, released late Wednesday, checked a brief recovery in U.S. markets that have been under significant pressure this year. A sell-off on the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite could end four consecutive day of gains on the S&P 500 and the Dow.

Futures for the S&P 500 slipped 1%, while the same for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 0.2%.

Meta tumbled 22% in off-hours trading after the social media giant spooked investors with a weak revenue forecast and higher cost projections. The company lost nearly $200 billion in value since the market closed Wednesday. Twitter, Snap and Spotify, other social media companies, were dragged down as well before the opening bell.

Investors also had their eyes on monetary policy updates in Europe, with the Bank of England raising interest rates for the second time in three months on Thursday, putting the United Kingdom far ahead of the rest of Europe and the U.S. in moving to tame surging inflation that is squeezing consumers and businesses.

The bank’s monetary policy committee boosted its key rate 0.5% from 0.25%.

In contrast, the European Central Bank doesn’t plan to raise rates until 2023 despite record inflation, blaming it on temporary factors. But it has decided the economic recovery is strong enough to start carefully dialing back some of its stimulus efforts over the next year. It also meets Thursday.

“Although ECB President Lagarde stated last week that the central bank has no motive to move as quickly as the Fed, pressure on the central bank to decrease support is increasing,” Naeem Aslam of Avatrade said in a commentary.

Germany’s DAX lost 0.5%, while the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.3% as did Britain’s FTSE 100.

Oil prices fell after major oil-producing countries decided Wednesday to stick with their plan to just a bit more oil to the global economy. That will likely keep prices near their highest levels in seven years. The 23-member OPEC+ alliance opted to add 400,000 barrels per day in March.

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