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Poles cannot expect shipyard bailout, told to sell assets

brussels bureau

Poles cannot expect shipyard bailout, told to sell assets


EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes has suggested Poland sell state-owned yards’ assets and use the proceeds to pay back grants that broke EU rules.

She said: “Given the coming recession, it might be a good idea to focus on an industry (production activity) with better profit-making prospects than shipbuilding.”

The Commission wants the state-controlled yards of Gdynia and Szczecin and the privatised Gdansk yard to repay 2.3 billion euros in illegal state aid.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in Brussels on Thursday that his government was in talks with the Commission on a radical new restructuring plan but he gave no details.

She urged the Polish government to back her plan, saying otherwise it would lose any influence over the sale process.

The three yards employ a total of around 15,000 workers but Polish officials say as many as 60,000 jobs could be at risk when related sectors are taken into account.

The yards would have collapsed without state subsidies. They have not turned a profit on a ship since 2004, when Poland joined the EU.

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