July 15, 2020 / 9:10 AM / a month ago

Spanish PM sees 'very difficult hours ahead' as EU summit nears

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven pose for a photo during their meeting, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Harpsund, Sweden July 15, 2020. Erik Simander/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday he sees “very difficult hours ahead” as he visited his Swedish counterpart Stefan Lofven for talks ahead of an EU summit later this week.

Spain is among EU member states whose economies have been hard-hit by the pandemic and which want two-thirds of the recovery fund to be in the form of free grants.

“We have different views on the answer to the crisis, but we share a common goal,” Sanchez told a news conference at the Swedish government’s summer residence Harpsund south of Stockholm.

Sweden, one of the bloc’s “Frugal Four”, wants a proposed recovery fund to distribute loans rather than grants while also seeking a smaller long-term EU budget, positions that have pitted it against countries such as Spain.

Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm and Nathan Allen in Madrid

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