May 15, 2020 / 7:04 PM / 13 days ago

"Lot of work to do" as EU seeks deal on COVID recovery fund -senior official

BRUSSELS, May 15 (Reuters) - There is no agreement yet between European Union countries on how much of the bloc’s proposed new coronavirus recovery fund should be handed out as grants to member states and how much in loans, a senior EU official said on Friday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the EU executive in Brussels pushed back until May 27 the unveiling of its new proposal for the bloc’s next long-term budget, and the accompanying Recovery Fund, aiming to kick-start growth on the continent headed for its worst-ever economic downturn.

“The jackpot question is what is the size and what will be loans and grants,” the official said. “Here there is a lot of work to do... This process is an extremely fragile one.”

The official said all the EU’s 27 member states agree that the European Commission would raise money on capital markets for the recovery fund. The funds will be channelled through the EU’s next budget, called the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

“The question of loans or grants is not quite there,” the person said, adding that some of the northern EU countries continued to oppose handing out money in grants. (Reporting by Robin Emmott, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska)

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