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Sweden expresses dismay over grants in EU recovery plan

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Stockholm (AFP)

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven expressed disappointment Wednesday over the high level of grants proposed in the European Union's 750-billion-euro post-virus recovery fund.

The proposed package consists of 500 million euros in grants and 250 million euros in loans to help the continent after the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic.

"A recovery fund that helps get countries' economies back on their feet is needed," Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said.

"However, it is surprising that the EU Commission is now recommending that more than 5,000 billion kronor (500 billion euros) be paid out as grants, without any demand for repayment," Lofven wrote in a statement sent to AFP.

"Sweden has all along pushed for the fund to be focused on loans, which provide a stronger incentive for the money to be used efficiently," he said.

The proposal is expected to kick off tough negotiations with several northern EU states -- Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands -- that have opposed paying out aid in grants to countries already under mountains of debt.

"There is a risk that there will be a sharp increase in what Sweden pays to the EU," Lofven said.

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