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Swedish PM says much work left to reach EU deal on recovery fund

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Friday that differences remained over both a recovery fund and a long-term budget for the European Union and that significant changes to the proposals were needed for an agreement to be reached.

“We have not reached an agreement today, nor were we planning to,” he told a news conference shortly after participating in a virtual EU summit.

“We continue to stand fairly far from each other. All in all, big improvements are needed before both the long-term budget and the recovery fund (plans) are good enough.”

The leaders discussed a proposal to borrow 750 billion euros ($841 billion) to help revive economies hit by the pandemic with the European Commission suggesting two-thirds be disbursed in grants and one-third as loans.

Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria -- known as the “Frugal Four” -- have argued the fund is too large and want the support to consist of loans and not grants.

($1 = 0.8917 euros)

Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Catherine Evans