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Kroes Meets With Polish Government To Discuss Shipyard Subsidies

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

20 April 2007


European Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes and Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski met in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss the current state of play with regard to the European Commission's investigation into subsidies for shipyards at Gdynia, Gdansk and Szczecin.

Commissioner Kroes underlined the EC's position that state aid, including the write-off of public debt, can only be approved as part of a package including restructuring plans to ensure restoration of long-term viability, a significant private sector contribution to the restructuring costs and capacity reductions to limit the distortions of competition created by the aid.

The Prime Minister and Commissioner Kroes agreed that contacts on the issue between the Commission and the Polish authorities would continue with a view to reaching a satisfactory outcome as soon as possible.

In particular, it was agreed that Commissioner Kroes would meet with the Polish Economic Affairs Minister, Piotr Wozniak in Brussels within the next few weeks.

Commissioner Kroes stressed that the Commission understands the sensitivity of these cases as well as their complexity, and explained that in her view, the successful restructuring of the Polish yards is in the best interests of both the Polish authorities and the Commission.

She went on to add that she is open to a constructive approach, but argued that "constructive" cannot mean "lenient", since state aid rules have to apply equally to every Member State.

The shipbuilding sector in the EU has, in the past decades, been subject of extensive and sometimes painful restructuring. The Commission has authorised state aid for this purpose only under stringent conditions. Poland can be no exception to this, the Competition Commissioner explained.


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