BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union regulators said Wednesday that time was almost up for Poland to make changes to a government rescue package for three ailing shipyards.
EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said the Polish government had until Thursday to make changes to its current restructuring plan or the European Commission could decide to reject it as soon as July 16.
This could result in the EU ordering Warsaw to claim back from the Gdynia, Szczecin and Gdansk shipyards all the subsidies they have received -- an order bound to run into hundreds of millions of euros.
Polish dockworkers claim that the EU's demand to close two of the Gdansk yard's three slipways would put more than 1,000 workers -- a third of the work force -- out of work.
The docks have played a major role in Polish history, especially Gdansk, the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union, which launched the nation's peaceful anti-communist revolt in the 1980s.
Todd said EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes met with Polish Treasure Minister Aleksander Grad to say that the current plan cannot be cleared under EU state aid rules because it does not ensure that the yards can survive commercially in the long-term.
"Commissioner Kroes explained very clearly that time is up. We've had extra time. Extra time has now expired," he said.
"When I say time is up that means that unless all our conditions are met, we will have no option but to go for a negative decision," he said.
Regulators are not happy with the way Poland plans to compensate the yards as they reduce shipbuilding capacity as ordered. They also want the plan to be financed by the shipyards themselves.
The EU said it cannot allow Poland to subsidize its yards when other countries -- such as Germany -- underwent "a painful process of restructuring in the 1990s" that saw them slash capacity to become economically viable.
The EU executive began investigating the subsidies in June 2005.