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Page last updated at 17:50 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 18:50 UK

EU 'to back plan to save Gdansk'

Neelie Kroes (left) and Aleksander Grad (2 June 2009)
Gdansk has been under investigation by the EU over state aid since 2005

European Union Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes says she is confident the EU will back a plan to rescue Poland's ailing Gdansk shipyard.

She said she was satisfied the plan would save the yard, which symbolised the struggle against communism.

The decision would mean Gdansk would not have to return hundreds of millions of euros in illegal state aid.

Later this week, Poland will celebrate the 20th anniversary of elections that heralded the end of communist rule.

'Technical issues'

Gdansk has been under investigation by the European Commission over its receipt of state aid since 2005.

The EU allows state aid in member states only under strict conditions. The commission can authorise such help if it is accompanied by a viable restructuring programme.

Gdansk shipyard
The Gdansk shipyard was the birthplace of Solidarity in 1980

Ms Kroes said that pending a couple of "technical issues", the EU might approve the plan by the end of the month.

After talks in Brussels with Polish Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad, she said she was satisfied the restructuring plan would "restore long-term viability to the Gdansk shipyard".

Monday's announcement will please many in Poland, where the shipyard has come to represent the country's struggle against communism, says the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw.

In August 1980, striking workers led by Lech Walesa won the right to form the first independent trade union in the former Soviet bloc.

Solidarity went on to win elections in 1989, which paved the way for the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe.

In 1990, Mr Walesa was elected Poland's first post-communist president.



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Profile: Lech Walesa
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Country profile: Poland
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