Fog and haze of stream and trees in yellow sun

European Commission makes formal request for financial penalties over Białowieża

The European Commission has confirmed to the Polish media that it has submitted a formal request to the Court of Justice of the EU to impose financial penalties over illegal logging in the Bialowieza Forest.

Poland’s Ministry of the Environment has 4 days to respond. The decision by the Court is expected within the next few weeks.

In July, the Court issued an emergency ban on logging in the ancient Białowieża Forest when it ruled that all tree-felling must stop immediately.

But the Polish Environment Minister became the first in the history of the European Union not only to ignore the interim measures, but to declare his intention to do so publicly.

On Monday, the Commission called on the EU’s most senior judges to impose fines over the continued illegal logging in Bialowieza. The comments came during a hearing into whether the emergency ban on logging should be upheld.

Katarzyna Kościesza, from environmental lawyers ClientEarth said: “The financial penalties which the Commission has now requested are a strong but proper reaction to this unprecedented situation. We hope for the sake of Bialowieza that our Polish authorities will respond by finally obeying the law and stop decimating this precious and ancient forest.

“Many Poles think the environment minister is wrong to continue this illegal and unacceptable action and yet will end up paying if financial penalties are imposed.”

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland