Poland's historic shipyards, where the Solidarity movement was born, could face bankruptcy following the failure of talks between the EU and Warsaw.

At issue are the billions of euros in state aid paid to the shipyard firms which the EU believes was illegal.

Under EU rules, governments can give financial help to ailing companies only if the cash is accompanied by plans that would make the firms viable in the long-term.

The companies say they would be bankrupt if they had to repay that aid, which could deal a serious political blow for Donald Tusk's centre-right government coalition.

15,000 people work at the shipyards in Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin and bankruptcy could lead to massive protests.

The European Commission decision may come next Wednesday and chances are growing that the aid will be declared illegal after EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told visiting Polish Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad that she still had serious doubts about its legality.

A Commission official, who asked not to be named, said latest figures showed state aid to the yards could amount to nearly €2.2bn.

'Those shipyards have not made a single profitable ship over last four years,' the official said.

The new estimates showed aid to Gdynia was €1.3bn, €640m to Szczecin and €218m to Gdansk. Part of these are production guarantees demanded by current or future investors in the yards.

Ukrainian group Industrial Union of Donbass bought Gdansk last year and could also take over state-controlled Gdynia. The government is in talks with a Norwegian and domestic investor on selling off Szczecin.

Mr Grad said he would try to amend the restructuring programmes to avoid a negative decision from the Commission. He planned to meet possible investors later on Thursday.

'The deficit of time is the main problem,' he told Polish news agency PAP.

Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said the issue of Polish shipyards was on the Commission's agenda next Wednesday.

'In the meeting today Mrs Kroes explained very clearly that time is up,' he told a daily news briefing.