Brussels could be about to rule that Poland’s aid for its shipyards has been illegal under EU rules. If the money has to be returned, it could bankrupt the yards, and possibly scuttle more than 8,000 jobs. The conclusions of a three-year probe by the European Commission could also be devastating to the centre-right government.
Yet a Commission spokesman said the Poles still have a chance: “If the Polish authorities produce new concrete and credible solutions within a short space of time that could be implemented immediately to ensure the long-term viability of these two shipyards, the Commission would naturally assess such proposed solutions before taking a decision.”
This means Warsaw can still submit restructuring plans for Gdynia and Szczecin. The third major shipyard, Gdansk, bought last year by Ukrainian group Industrial Donbass Union, has been given a month to send an overhaul programme to Brussels.
Gdansk and other shipyards represent the cradle of the Solidarity movement which helped trigger the fall of communism in Poland.
The Polish economy minister has said privatisation could save the companies. State aid for all three yards was estimated at 1.5 billion euros.
Poland joined the EU in 2004.