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[BERLIN] Stricter budget rules for European Union states and a downsized European Commission are part of a post-Brexit reform plan for the bloc drafted by aides for German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, the Handelsblatt daily reported on Wednesday.
The plan for Mr Schaeuble, whose austere approach to public finances has resulted in a balanced budget in Germany for the first time since 1969, will almost certainly face resistance from France and Italy, who prefer borrowing to stimulate their economies.
"Member states should not be discharged from their responsibilities to ensure stable budgets and growth-friendly structural reforms," Handelsblatt quoted the German experts as saying in the reform proposals.
Asked about the plan, a finance ministry source said: "At the moment, consolidation is not the main focus".
The paper also floats the idea of an independent body of experts to oversee implementation of EU budget rules, said the newspaper.
EU auditors earlier this year said the European Commission was not consistent in applying fiscal rules requiring member states to keep their budget deficits below 3 per cent of gross domestic product and to limit their debt to 60 per cent of GDP.
The European Commission last year gave France two more years to adhere to budget rules. Such leniency has in the past drawn criticism from northern European states, including Germany, which plans to keep a balanced budget until 2020.
Handelsblatt also said one suggestion in the plan was to downsize the European Commission, which has faced criticism for its extensive bureaucracy. It gave no further details.