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The Warsaw Voice » Business » November 12, 2008
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Brussels Plan for Shipyards
November 12, 2008 By A.R.    
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2.2 percent is how much the global economy will expand next year, according to a forecast by the International Monetary Fund.

The European Commission has decided that Polish state aid provided to the northern shipyards in Gdynia and Szczecin was illegal, but has given the Polish government until next May to make changes that are designed to protect both shipyards from going under.

In an official communiqué Nov. 6 the Commission said that the rehabilitation plan for the Polish shipyards will involve selling the yards' fixed assets in "open, transparent, nondiscriminatory and unconditional" tenders, to obtain funds to pay off the shipyards' debts and-as far as possible-return previously received aid. The companies acquiring the assets will be able to conduct work, not necessarily in shipbuilding, without being liable to repay the illegal subsidies.

As for employees, the plan is to save the greatest possible number of jobs. If an investor can be found to acquire all the assets, that investor will be able to continue building ships and, according to the Polish labor code, will also have to take on part of the work force.

If the emergency plan is not implemented, the Commission will demand the return of state aid provided over the past four years and the shipyards will go bankrupt. Presenting the Commission's position on the Gdynia and Szczecin shipyards, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said the best possible solution had been found thanks to "positive cooperation with the Polish government."

Poland's Treasury Ministry is also satisfied with the Commission's decision. "The Commission's decision means a chance to privatize the shipyards' individual assets," said Deputy Treasury Minister Zdzisław Gawlik.

The government has until the end of May to complete the operation. Its implementation will be monitored by the Commission at every stage, with a special proxy appointed for this purpose. If the plan is not carried out to the Commission's liking, it will be able to demand the return of state aid at any time.
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