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BERLIN: Changes to European Union debt rules proposed by the European Commission cannot be approved as they stand, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Tuesday, as finance ministers met in Brussels to discuss fiscal reform in the bloc.

The rules, called the Stability and Growth Pact, are suspended until the end of this year after first being suspended in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rules say national budget deficits should be no higher than 3.0% of GDP and debt no higher than 60%.

“These cannot be at the disposition of the countries,” the German finance minister said, adding that this was not up for discussion.

The EU Commission has proposed individual debt reduction paths in talks with each country rather than one-size-fits-all rules.

Countries with high levels of debt following the COVID-19 pandemic should return to sustainable stable public finances, Lindner said.

“Sustainability isn’t only an ecological issue, but also an economic one,” he added. For Germany it is an imperative to see “comprehensible, credible, predictable paths to reducing deficits and debt levels,” Lindner said.

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