27th Sep 2023

Polish senator attacks Lisbon treaty over shipyard row

Polish senator Krzysztof Zaremba has said Poland should not ratify the Lisbon treaty if Brussels forces it to close down shipyards, amid allegations of anti-Polish French and German lobbying.

"If lobbying stands behind the decision of the commissioner, to bankrupt the shipyards, then we should hold off on the ratification process," the senator told Polish newspaper Dziennik on Thursday (1 October). "They treat us like dirt. It's unacceptable. If this is the case, let Europe wait for its treaty."

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  • Gdansk: around 150 Solidarity members are planning a protest in Brussels on Friday. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Mr Zaremba - from Poland's ruling and pro-European Civic Platform party - said he would present his proposals at the next meeting of the senate's foreign affairs committee.

The senator said German influence might stand behind the European Commission's hostility to Poland's ship-building yards in Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin, with German competitors in Rostock and Straslund in line to pick up contracts from potential Polish closures.

Polish MEP Bogulsaw Sonik also told the paper that the French government is keen to scoop new ship-building deals from South Korea.

Polish officials have in the past accused commission official Karl Soukup - the director of the industrial restructuring unit in the competition department - of being "un-objective."

The Polish parliament has already ratified the Lisbon treaty. But president Lech Kaczynski has so far refused to sign the text, saying it is invalid unless Ireland overturns the result of its negative referendum from June.

Mr Zaremba's remarks come after competition commissioner Neelie Kroes on Tuesday said she will give a negative recommendation to the other 26 commissioners on Poland's shipyard restructuring plan, with the commission's final decision pending "shortly."

If Brussels rejects the restructuring blueprint, the ailing docks in Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin will be forced to give back billions in state aid paid out shortly after the 2004 round of enlargement, and may have to close.

The closure of Gdansk would be a painful blow to Polish historical sensibility, as the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement which spearheaded anti-Communist resistance in the 1980s.

Commission officials told Polish news agency PAP that only a separate restructuring plan for Gdansk may find favour in Brussels. The mini-plan may be more acceptable on technical grounds, as the Gdansk yard received less state cash, the contacts said.

Around 150 Solidarity members are planning a protest outside the commission's headquarters in Brussels on Friday.

"We want to appeal to commissioner Neelie Kroes about the Gdansk plan and to give the other yards a chance. Any closure could lead to a crash in the whole [Polish] ship-building sector," the trade union's Karol Guzikiewicz told PAP.

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