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Poland Faces EU Deadline on Gdansk Shipyard


Poland's Gdansk shipyard, the birthplace of the anti-communist Solidarity movement, has presented the European Union with a last-ditch rescue plan to prevent its closure.

The European Commission has set a Tuesday midnight deadline for Poland to present a plan for cutting shipyard capacity, or alternately returning millions of dollars in subsidies used to keep the facility from bankruptcy.

The EU executive has demanded Gdansk close two of its three drydocks, while the Polish news agency says the Polish plan submitted late Monday calls for closing one of the three docks. The shipyard currently employs 3,000 workers.

In Brussels Tuesday, a European Commission spokeswoman, Amelia Torres, told the French Press Agency the 11th-hour Polish proposal is being examined by the EU's competition department. She refused further comment.

Once Europe's leading shipbuilder, the aging Gdansk facility now faces mounting financial problems stemming from increased competition from Asia and western Europe.

Solidarity founder and former Polish President Lech Walesa has condemned the EU push to close the Gdansk facility. Last week, he said the EU should help solve the shipyard's problems, rather than force its closure as part of what he called "a stupid political game."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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