The European Union must remain open-minded about the need to change its treaties, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday, rebuffing comments by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

“The European Union must be able to react to the challenges of the time,” said government spokesman Christoph Steegmans, adding that situations such as the financial crisis required an appropriate response.

“If we cannot change a comma or a full stop in the European treaties in the next 20 years, we are a stagnating system and we do not want that,” Mr. Steegmans added.

The comments came after Mr. Barroso said in a newspaper interview that it was “naive” of Germany to believe “that treaty modifications can be made just in those areas that are important for Germany.” Other states, such as Britain, would also start making requests, Mr. Barroso added.

“We will not present any suggestions for a change in treaties, even if we are open to good ideas,” Mr. Barroso told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine, adding that the recent ratification of the Lisbon treaty had been “traumatic” at times.

Ms. Merkel has repeatedly said that changes to EU treaties should be considered, if these are necessary to promote the stability of the euro currency.

The EU commission president also played down proposals by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who had suggested measures such as suspending the voting rights of euro zone members who consistently break deficit rules.

Mr. Barroso said it was already possible to remove the voting rights of a member state that kept breaching EU laws, adding: “From a constitutional perspective, to me it seems almost impossible to go beyond that.”

More In: International | News