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Politics

Mitsotakis Pushes EU to Deliver COVID-19 Recovery Funding

BRUSSELS — Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, wearing a mask in Brussels, said he wanted the European Union to produce a recovery fund to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19 that could bring Greece 22.6 billion euros ($25.78 billion) in grants and 9.4 billion euros ($10.72 billion) in loans.

There is “absolutely no reason why we shouldn't get a deal done,” he told journalists, adding however that “compromises will be necessary,” said Kathimerini, adding that what's on the table for Greece is “very positive.”

His New Democracy government handed out 17.5 billion euros ($19.96 billion) in benefits to workers temporarily laid off during a long lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, and assistance to their companies.

He wants most of the money to come in grants, not loans, as Greece had been just accelerating a slow recovery from a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis under his government when COVID-19 hit.

European Council President Charles Michel wants to tie some of the funding to the growth rate of the economy, with Greece's expected to fall as much as 10.5 percent because it's so reliant on tourism and visitors have been slow to come, fearful of traveling with the Coronavirus prevalent, although far less in Greece.

Leaders from 27 European Union nations meet face-to-face on Friday for the first time since February, despite the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic, to assess an overall budget and recovery package spread over seven years estimated at some 1.75 trillion to 1.85 trillion euros.

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