Drawing parallels with sport, Rehn said enforcing the EU's upcoming new rules "should not be more complicated than in a football game".
"The players cannot start discussing the rules of the game with the referee every time they commit a foul," he told the European Parliament's economic affairs committee on Wednesday (15 September).
The debate over economic governance reforms, launched in the midst of the Greek debt crisis, has been deadlocked over what sanctions to apply for countries that break the EU's budget discipline, enshrined in the Stability and Growth Pact (EurActiv 16/09/10).
Rehn, who is currently drawing up proposals to revise the pact, says he wants the sanctions to be more "automatic" in order to prevent political interference from blocking the process.
To ensure sanctions are effectively applied, Rehn said he wants to make it harder for member states to stop them. Until now, sanctions for excessive deficit have always been blocked as soon as they have reached the approval stage in the EU's Council of Ministers, which is made up of representatives from the Union's 27 member states.
Preventing political interference
"Specifically, we foresee the adoption of a 'reverse majority voting' procedure, whereby the proposals by the Commission for the application of the […] Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) should be considered adopted unless the Council rejects them within a certain deadline".
"Clearly, respect on the part of the Council of the Commission's independent proposals of the case underlying EDP decisions will be crucial for the reinforced economic governance to work as intended," Rehn explained.
Another aspect will be to widen economic surveillance to macro-economic "indicators" such as productivity, unit labour costs, employment and others in order to identify and tackle imbalances in a preventive manner.
"Where necessary we will issue country-specific recommendations. We foresee also an enforcement mechanism for Euro Area Member States in case of serious non-compliance with the recommendations," Rehn said.
The proposals are due on 29 September and will be submitted for approval to EU member states and the European Parliament.
Addressing MEPs, Rehn challenged them to adopt the Commission's upcoming proposals swiftly, using a fast-track procedure. "Time is of essence here," he said, urging Parliament to "set the target for adoption of these proposals before summer break next year".