Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 16:29 UK

EU plans Polish shipyard sell-off

Polish shipyard workers protest outside European Commission in Brussels, 16 Sep 08
Shipyard workers protested outside the European Commission last month

The European Commission has put forward a new plan to sell off Poland's ailing shipyards, which are threatened with bankruptcy in a dispute over state aid.

The state-owned, communist-era Gdynia and Szczecin shipyards could face a crippling bill of 2.3bn euros (1.8bn; $3bn) under EU rules on state aid.

The commission now wants to sell the shipyards' assets to pay off the state aid, paving the way for new investment.

Workers in the nearby Gdansk shipyard led Poland's anti-communist struggle.

The Gdansk yard is now in the hands of a Ukrainian investor, Industrial Union of Donbass (ISD).

Tens of thousands of jobs could go if Poland's shipyards are not rescued.

Competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said the Gdynia and Szczecin shipyards' assets could be sold off, leaving a shell company that would then be liquidated.

A new investor would not have the burden of having to pay back state aid and could make a "fresh start", she told the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza. She suggested the yards could be converted to produce something else.

Last month the Polish government presented its own restructuring plan, under which ISD would buy the Gdynia yard and the Szczecin yard would go to a Norwegian-Polish consortium. But both investors are seeking more state subsidies, risking rejection by the commission.

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

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