Polish leader sees solution for ailing shipyards
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Tuesday that talks with the European Union on privatizing three ailing Polish shipyards were moving forward, and he indicated that the EU would give Poland more time to offer a restructuring plan, dpa reported.
Unless the plan passes muster by the European Commission, Poland risks having to repay EU aid for the yards that it received since joining the bloc in 2004.
The commission, the EU's executive arm, was expected rule Wednesday on whether to give Poland more time for talks with investors on privatizing the yards at Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin.
But Tusk said his government would submit a privatization plan on September 12, suggesting that the commission has already agreed to an extension.
"The decision will come tomorrow," he told reporters Tuesday. "I feel authorized to say that today the matter is on a good road."
The European Commission will ask for repayment of state aid given to Poland's historic shipyards, but will give Poland another three months for privatization talks, the Polish Press Agency reported, citing unnamed sources in the EU.
Tusk said a phone talk on Tuesday with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made him optimistic that the dispute can be resolved.
He gave no details, but said his government "for now" would not ask other EU governments to lobby the commission to go easy on Poland.
The shipyards are symbolic to Poles as the birthplace of the Solidarity labor union that challenged the country's communist regime in the 1980s.