Stephen Hughes, North East Labour MEP is seeking an urgent meeting with Regional Development Commissioner, Johannes Hahn to seek immediate action over information received that EU Regional Fund Money claimed by Poland has been used as a sweetner to lure Twinings from North Shields to a site in central Poland.

Tea producer Twinings started to train staff from Poland in September as the company intends moving part of production to newly constructed facilities located within a special economic zone (allegedly partly paid for with EU money) in Swarzedz. These new facilities are intended to provide production for the European market. At the same time, Twinings tea packaging facility in North Shields, will be closed down and 263 people will lose their jobs.

Speaking from his North East constituency, Stephen Hughes said:--

“When questioned about this in May, the Commission said it had been informed by Polish authorities that a subsidiary of Twinings had applied for funding from the European Regional Development Fund amounting to around €10 million.

“Within the strict transparency rules operated by the European Commission, the Polish authorities would have been obliged to seek undertakings from Twinings that the money would not be used to support relocation of production or service facilities from another member state.

“I am demanding assurances from Commissioner Hahn that this money has not been misused. The European Commission has a duty to safeguard the use of public money and I want to be sure that workers in my constituency are not losing their livelihoods as a result of the EU not abiding by its own rules of engagement.

“This is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul only in our case we may be paying for the privilege.”