EU court threatens Poland with heavy fines over ancient forest logging

Bialowieza Forest, in Poland, is one of Europe's last primeval forests

The EU’s top court on Monday
warned Poland’s right-wing government to “immediately” stop logging in
one of Europe’s last primeval forests or face fines of up to 100,000
euros ($118,000). The case is the latest
in a string of issues causing tensions between Warsaw and Brussels,
which has watched the Polish administration’s recent judicial reforms
with alarm.

“Poland must immediately
cease its active forest management operations in the Bialowieza Forest,
except in exceptional cases where they are strictly necessary to ensure
public safety,”
the European Court of Justice said.
there is found to be an infringement, the court will order Poland to
pay to the (European) Commission a penalty payment of at least 100,000
euros a day,”
the Luxembourg-based court added.
The court first ordered Warsaw to suspend logging in the forest on July 27 pending a final judgement.
EU had taken Poland to court arguing that the operations were
destroying a forest that boasts unique plant and animal life, including
the continent’s largest mammal, the European bison.
European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union,
has warned Poland to comply or see the logging issue added to a broader
EU case against Warsaw over the rule of law.
European Parliament last week voted to start an EU sanctions procedure
over Warsaw’s controversial judicial reforms that could eventually
suspend Warsaw’s voting rights in the bloc.
Adding to the trouble, EU President Donald Tusk,
a former liberal prime minister of Poland, on Sunday questioned whether
tensions between Poland’s government with Ukraine and the EU were part
of a “Kremlin plan”.
Polish PM Beata Szydlo said that by “using his position to attack the Polish government, he’s attacking Poland.”


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