Poland seeks EU reprieve on crucial shipyard aid
Poland's government signalled Wednesday that European Union officials have refused privatization plans for its ailing shipyards and said it would ask Brussels for an explanation, reported dpa. Workers at the shipyards on Poland's Baltic coast, birthplace of the Solidarity trade union that helped bring down communism, threatened to hold strikes. Finance Minister Aleksander Grad's remarks came amid media reports that European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes rejected the Polish plan at a meeting with Grad in Brussels on Tuesday. Grad stopped short of confirming the reports, but accused Brussels of failing to show good will in solving the dispute - an emotional one the historic connection with Solidarity. "We cannot call the matter closed," Grad told a Warsaw news conference Wednesday. The yards risk having to repay more than 2.3 billion euros (3.2 billion dollars) in state aid. That would likely bankrupt the facilities in Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin, and could mean unemployment for up to 60,000 people. The European Commission - the EU's executive arm - had given Poland until September 12 to come up with plans to restructure and privatize the yards, extending a previous deadline that Warsaw failed to meet.