Poland broke law with logging in ancient forest, top EU court says

From Reuters - April 17, 2018

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Unions highest court ruled on Tuesday that Poland broke environmental laws with large-scale logging in the ancient Bialowieza forest, one of a raft of flashpoint issues between the eurosceptic Polish government and the bloc.

In a final ruling in Luxembourg, judge Marek Safjan of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the logging in Bialowieza, a World Heritage site and home to the rare European bison, had endangered many birds and insects.

For months, Poland ignored environmentalists protests and an ECJ order last July to stop logging immediately, further fuelling concerns that it was backpedaling on democratic standards under the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Warsaw said earlier this year it had stopped the logging, part of a broader campaign to improve ties with the EU after two years of bitter feuds - including on judicial independence and migration - since PiS won power in 2015.

Environment minister Jan Szyszko, who was responsible for the increased logging quotas, has since been dismissed, and the ministry said on Tuesday that it would respect the ruling.

Poland will observe the ruling, the current Environment Minister Henryk Kowalczyk said in a statement.

The ministry added it would send the EUs executive new proposals for on a possible protection plan for the forest.


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