Frankfurt (Oder) – It is dredged and dredged, near the city bridge between Frankfurt (Oder) and Slubice, dams are piled up with stones on the Oder. The EU Commission is now targeting the controversial expansion work that Poland started single-handedly in early 2022 despite official intervention by Brandenburg and is driving it forward. This emerges from a letter from the EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius dated May 4, 2022 to the Green Party leader Ska Keller in the European Parliament.

“I can assure you that I will continue to follow this case very closely,” writes Sinkevicius.

He confirms that Poland has not complied with its information obligations towards the EU under the European Habitats Directive. The Commission “received neither a communication nor a request for an opinion from the Polish authorities”. However, the Commission is “not authorized to order the cessation of work in a member state”.

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Instead, Sinkevicius refers to the planned “system of administrative and judicial review of decisions, acts or omissions of the national authorities within the framework of the environmental impact assessment procedure”. But that is precisely what has so far left Poland in limbo.

Brandenburg’s Ministry of the Environment had already lodged an objection to the project in Poland in 2020, but a decision has not yet been made on this. “Answering the objection to the 2020 expansion plans was recently postponed for the seventh time, currently until June 30,” said Frankfurt Greens member of the state parliament Sahra Damus.

Environment Minister Axel Vogel (Greens) reacted all the more angrily to the start of work in March. “This is not an example of good cooperation between the Polish and German sides,” he said.

Specifically, Poland wants to renew 113 groynes, i.e. stone dams built at right angles to the course of the bank, along almost 30 kilometers on the east bank of the Oder, build some new ones, strengthen banks in order to “improve the shipping conditions on the Oder and adapt them to waterway class III”.

A part of it, however, is located directly at the Lower Oder Valley National Park, the only floodplain national park in Germany, where 60 groynes are also to be renewed over 15 kilometers and five new ones are to be built, including so-called longitudinal dams. National Park Director Dirk Treichel had repeatedly warned that the work in Poland would dam the river, increase the flow rate and remove sediment from the bottom, which would have immense effects on flora and fauna.

From the point of view of the Ministry of the Environment, associations and the Greens, the plans violate EU law. This is also the conclusion of a report commissioned by the Greens from the Leipzig environmental law firm Baumann, also known from successful processes for the enforcement of noise protection at BER. Accordingly, the Oder expansion “currently contradicts European habitat protection on the German side as well as on the Polish side,” it says. “It cannot be approved on the basis of this”

According to the Brandenburg-born EU Greens parliamentary group leader Keller, the EU should do more.

The environmental department sees “very carefully what is currently happening on the Oder. And that’s a good thing,” said Keller. “However, that doesn’t go far enough for us.” The EU must ensure “that its funding is not used for purposes that contradict EU law”.