Page last updated at 09:06 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 10:06 UK

Poland in plea to EU on shipyards

Polish shipyard workers
Thousands of jobs in Poland's shipyards are at risk

Poland has asked the European Commission for more time to privatise its ailing Baltic shipyards, amid EU irritation over Polish state aid.

The Commission has urged Poland to come up with a viable restructuring plan soon for the shipyards in Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin.

"There are new investors applying for both Gdynia and Szczecin," said Polish Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad.

The Commission has the power to demand that the yards pay back state aid.

The Gdansk shipyard has a special place in Polish hearts as the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union, which successfully challenged the former communist regime in the 1980s.

"The Commission... has no choice but to make preparations for a negative decision requiring the repayment of state aid received by the Gdynia and Szczecin shipyards," said Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd on Thursday.

He urged Poland to produce "new concrete and credible solutions" for the shipyards "in a short space of time," the AFP news agency reported.

Mr Grad said the government had assured the Commission that it was finalising the privatisation process. "We hope the Commission will allow us to complete the privatisation," he added.

The shipyards have received hundreds of millions of euros in state subsidies, repayment of which could bankrupt them.

Go-ahead for sale of Gdansk dock
08 Nov 07 |  Business
Poland fights for Gdansk shipyard
21 Aug 07 |  Business

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