The EU's executive arm will announce on Friday its economic forecasts for the 27 countries in the European Union for this year and next, including growth, budget deficit and debt rates.
Spain's borrowing costs have soared on investor concerns that the government may have to bail out the banking sector. Madrid has promised to reduce the public deficit to 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year from 8.5 percent in 2011, and to 3 percent in 2013.
However, the Commission will say that unless policies change, Spain will have a budget shortfall of 6.0 percent this year and just short of 4 percent in 2013, two EU officials said.
Madrid, under intense market pressure to demonstrate its public finances are be sustainable, is adamant it will meet the targets, although no new measures are in the pipeline for now.
"The debate right now is not about relaxing the deficit path but rather how to meet our pledge (to meet deficit targets)," Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said yesterday (9 May).
A Spanish government official, who asked not to be identified, said there were no plans to soften the deficit targets.
"There will be no change in the targets and we will achieve both. We'll stick to our deficit reduction path. The reforms and the budget we presented earlier this year put us on the right track," the official said.
"We have no plan to move (from the targets) and it is up to the EU, not us, to carry out the exercise of assessing these targets," the source added.
The 2012 Spanish deficit target has already been eased from the original 4.4%, because instead of growing 0.7% in 2012, as the Commission forecast last November, the Spanish economy is likely to shrink 1.7%.
In 2013, Spain might grow only 0.2%, according to its latest forecasts, while the Commission had expected a 1.4% growth last November.
With the eurozone as a whole expected to dip into a mild recession this year, policymakers and economists have began to emphasise the importance of reviving economic growth, rather than just austerity, if the eurozone is to win back market confidence after two years of the sovereign debt crisis.
Some policymakers in Brussels believe the 3% in 2013 deficit target for Spain, set in February 2010 when growth was expected at about 3% in 2012 and 2013, is out of reach now, although there is no official talk of softening it yet.
When the Commission releases its latest growth and deficit forecasts on Friday "we will have to look at the targets with fresh eyes", a second EU official said, cautioning that it did not mean any immediate loosening or more time for Spain.
One option, the second official said, could be to allow Spain to focus on the structural deficit, rather than the nominal figure in 2013, as Italy did with a switch to a budget balance in structural terms rather than in the headline number.
That would effectively give it an extra year to reach the headline target. But no discussion of such loosening was under way.
"The 3 percent in 2013 is their own (Spain's) target, they don't even want another year, so it is a moot point," one senior euro zone official said.
Brussels is keen to keep up the pressure for deficit reduction while the Spanish government negotiates on public spending controls with the country's autonomous regions, a major factor in last year's deficit overrun.
"We will see at the end of May, when all the budget proposals from the regions are in. Then one will be able to say if there is a realistic chance or is it going to be very, very tough," the senior euro zone official said. "Give them time until end-May."