Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Austria, dubbed the ‘frugal four,’ have presented an alternative Covid-19 ‘Recovery Plan’ to rival the Franco-German deal put forward last week, to help the hardest hit countries by the pandemic, such as Italy and Spain.
AUSTRIAN Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has made it clear, however, that they want to offer loans from a “time-limited fund” and not grants, which is what Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was hoping for. The frugal four are instead offering emergency funds for European countries most affected by the pandemic, through one-off loans, which must be paid back quickly – within two years.
They will be “intensive, rapid and with no bureaucracy,” stated Kurz. “But they will come with a time limit.” Additionally, the money lent must be “directed towards activities that contribute most to the recovery such as research and innovation, with enhanced resilience in the health sector,” he added.
This alternative proposal rivals the one put forward earlier this week French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who proposed a €500 billion fund, as reported. But the ‘frugal four’ rejected it, insisting there must be no “mutualisation of debt.” They also reject “any significant increases to the EU’s budget,” as suggested by the Franco-German plan to fund the recovery programme.