(Adds quotes from EU Commission president, detail, background)
BRUSSELS/ATHENS, June 17 (Reuters) - The European Commission approved on Thursday Greece’s national plan, worth 30.5 billion euros ($36.5 billion), to recover from the pandemic and make the economy greener and more digitalised.
Under the multi-billion euro coronavirus recovery package agreed by EU leaders last year, Athens is set to receive 18.2 billion euros in grants and 13 billion euros in cheap loans in the coming years, equal to about 16% of its national output.
The cash will come from money borrowed by the European Commission on the financial markets. Greece hopes the plan will boost its economic growth by as much as seven percentage points over the next six years.
“The plan will help Greece build a better future,” EU Commission Presideent Ursula von der Leyen said in Athens at a presentation in the agora near the Acropolis, an ancient gathering place for commerce and politics.
The Commission’s approval now has to be endorsed by EU finance ministers in July, allowing for the disbursement of 4 billion euros to Greece in pre-financing for projects earmarked by the scheme.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the recovery plan encompasses about 175 investment projects, with main areas of focus including transitioning to a greener economy and digitalisation, including boosting high speed internet.
The government expects the EU funding to mobilise added leverage from the private sector via equity capital and loans, meaning total funds for investments can reach about 100 billion euros, Mitsotakis said.
“Today marks the last act of the turbulence the pandemic brought and the start of the recovery plan,” he said. “A fairer welfare means a stronger democracy.” ($1 = 0.8365 euros) (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski Editing by Gareth Jones)
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