EU recovery plan 'excellent sign', Italy's Conte says

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wearing a protective face mask, leaves the Senate as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Rome, Italy May 20, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

Italian Prime Minister on Wednesday hailed a proposal by the European Union's chief for a 750-billion-euro post-virus recovery fund as "an excellent sign from Brussels".

"It goes in the direction indicated by . We were described as visionaries because we believed in it from the beginning," he said on Facebook.

Heavily-indebted Italy was hit particularly hard by the coronavirus -- with nearly 33,000 deaths -- and has insisted the bloc pull out the big guns to help rebuild economies slowly emerging from lengthy lockdowns.

"500 billion in grants and 250 billion in loans is a fair amount. Now let's speed up the negotiations and release the resources soon," he added.

Of the plan's 750 billion euros ($825 billion), Italy would receive up to 81.8 billion in direct aid and 90.9 billion in loans, according to a document seen by AFP.

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