On Friday, the 31st of May 2018, the European Court of Justice (hereinafter referred to as the “ECJ”) decided that the Republic of Poland has failed to comply with its obligation under Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.
The European Commission referred Poland to ECJ in 2016, for failing to ensure that the environmental impacts of exploratory mining drillings are properly assessed. Under Polish law, it is possible to drill down to depths of 5000 metres without assessing the potential impact on the environment beforehand. The high threshold introduced under Polish law does not take into account all relevant criteria and standards established by the Directive which should be used when determining whether certain types of projects require an assessment. Under EU law, deep drillings need to be assessed, in particular for the waste they produce, their effects on water and soil, use of natural resources, the risk of accidents, and any cumulative effects they may have with other similar projects or activities.