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German finance minister doubtful of EU debt reform proposals

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BERLIN — Germany’s finance minister expressed his doubts on Monday about European Commission proposals to overhaul the European Union’s economic governance, as Berlin and Brussels butt heads over how best to rein in member states’ debt.

“We have our doubts that the proposal of the European Commission will lead to a reliable path of debt reduction,” Christian Lindner said in Berlin alongside EU economy commissioner Paulo Gentiloni.

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“It is not a secret that we do not agree on all details and all subjects,” Lindner said, adding that discussions continued on the need for reform.

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The European Commission has so far presented initial ideas on changing EU debt rules but no legislative proposals.

These have been met with caution in Berlin, which is pushing for uniform rules. The commission suggested tailoring the rules more closely to the needs of individual states.

Gentiloni said there was agreement between the commission and Germany on the need to bring down the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio of member states while encouraging investment.

“The two main issues that the discussion is addressing are first how we take together the need of a differentiation among countries that have very different level of debt,” Gentiloni said, adding that there was also need for a common framework, “not to have a sort of reduction debt a la carte.” (Reporting by Rachel More and Charlotte Van Campenhout, editing by Thomas Escritt and Ben Dangerfield)


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