On the eve of a restructuring plan deadline this Thursday, Polish shipbuilders have been demonstrating at the European Commission headquarters. One protest banner said: “Dictators from the east did not destroy us… Now Brussels holds the cards.”
Three major shipyards in Poland face bankruptcy if an order is upheld that some 1.3 billion euros in state aid must be returned — because the beneficiaries did not keep their part of the bargain. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes welcomed the workers’ delegates.
She has said the EU’s strict rules must be applied. Since 2004, when Poland joined the EU, one government after another has failed to file credible restructuring plans. Some 15,000 jobs are at stake at the shipyards in Gdynia, Szczecin and Gdansk, birthplace of the old anti-Communist Solidarity movement.
Kroese’s spokesman noted, however, that German shipyards had to restructure in the 1990s, and they are now profitable.