The Commission can publish data on the European Union's revenue and expenditure and propose alternatives, but the final decision on the post-2013 budget issues rests with member states and the European Parliament, he said.
"Our philosophy is to try to get resources from those activities which would not exist without the European Union," said Šefčovič, who is responsible for inter-institutional relations and administration at the EU executive.
"It is not going to be an easy task," he said. "On the one hand several ministers keep telling us that they would welcome an increase of own resources, because it would decrease the contribution of member states. But on the other hand, ministers of finance want to have the shaping of the EU budget under [their] control," he explained.
"The discussion about net contributors and net recipients is very unhealthy. It reflects an accounting point of view," the commissioner added, pointing out that "net contributors also benefit from the economic development of the new members".
As for spending priorities for the post-2013 period, Šefčovič said the Commission would "try to align the EU budget closer with the priorities of the 'Europe 2020' strategy". He also cited cohesion policy and innovation as key areas for EU action.
'Crisis has energised Europe'
The Commission vice-president also pointed to some positive side-effects of the global economic turmoil on European integration.
"What was positive was that this crisis has energised member states and the Council. It has highlighted that we need to solve problems together. And in the end we are negotiating measures which would have been unthinkable six or twelve months ago," Šefčovič said.
Sounding a cautious note, however, he warned it would take time for the EU to adjust to the new era ushered in by the Lisbon Treaty, which has only been in force since December 2009.
"It is obvious that in spite of long negotiations on the new institutional framework – they took more than ten years – when we get to their practical implementation, we still need to get used to them. It is a natural process," Šefčovič said.
"Such huge institutional change has to bring some tensions, which will be solved later when rules and procedures become automatic," he added.
The Slovak commissioner warned against the risk of protectionism in the wake of the crisis. "A worsening economic situation in Europe always awakens protectionist reflexes. They would bring simple solutions, which might even bring some results in the short term, but would mean a huge long-term loss," he said.
Defending the single market in the face of such protectionist tendencies is a success story for Brussels, Šefčovič believes. "Governments take the credit for good developments, and blame Brussels for bad ones. Brussels is presented as a kind of external force. We do not realise that we all are part of it."
Describing the relationship between permanent Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso as "very good," Šefčovič said "both have an enormous interest in coordination and their competences are clearly delimited" in the treaty.
"Van Rompuy communicates in the name of the EU all issues related to the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Barroso communicates in areas of Community policy – agriculture, external trade, energy. The international community has accepted this division of tasks," the commissioner explained.