Poland will give EU shipyard response

The future of Poland's shipyards featured high in the Polish prime minister?s meeting and press conference with EC president Jose Manuel Barroso. The issue is one of the most contentious in strained relations between Poland and the EU.

Under EU rules, governments can support struggling businesses, but only if they can demonstrate that aid money eventually will be repaid at market rates. In June 2005, the EC warned Poland that state funds given to the shipyards in Gdynia, Gdansk and Szczecin might be illegal under the EU's rules.

This week, the EU complained that Poland hasn't given the Commission details about how the businesses will be restructured and the money repaid. If Poland doesn't submit restructuring plans, or if the Commission finds the plans won't allow the repayment of the aid money, Brussels can order Warsaw to recover the funds. On Wednesday, the Polish leader said he believed his government's bailout plans would respect EU law.

"By tomorrow, we will send a paper on a project accepted by our council of ministers that is open to further negotiations," Kaczynski said. It will show that "the rules of conduct are equal to everyone in Europe." "We are not opposed to state aid for shipyards," replied Barroso. "State aid has to respect some conditions. We are going to apply to Poland what the Commission has applied to other member states in the way we assess conditions to state aid."

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