The European Union says it will interpret its fiscal rules with some flexibility for countries that invest and reform more — a promise that could be good news for struggling France and Italy.

The EU's executive Commission said Tuesday the rules that could punish member states for excessive deficits and debts will now be "applied in an intelligent, effective and credible manner."

Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said that in certain cases the EU executive "may allow a member state to deviate temporarily from its medium-term budgetary objective or adjustment path."

That could mean France and Italy are less likely to face fines for breaking debt and deficit limits.

Dombrovskis insists the limits are not being changed, but the EU will take into account more temporary factors when assessing compliance.