Ministers from nine EU countries including Britain, France and Germany are expected to sign up to a position paper slamming the Commission's plans for a 2014-2020 budget seen as bloated in times of economic austerity, the AFP sources said on 10 September.
The draft document says "the Commission proposal is too high. The increases of spending over the next multi-annual financial framework are significantly in excess of what is needed for a stabilisation of the European budget".
"Member states are making considerable financial efforts to support Europe and at the same time are undertaking tough consolidation efforts," it adds.
Among the other countries involved are net contributors to the European Union budget including Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden, which is hosting a ministers' meeting in Brussels today (12 September) to discuss the issue.
"Total spending for the 2014-2020 period needs to be substantially lower," the draft document states. "We need to make the best use of the European budget to create better conditions for growth and make Europe more competitive. We need to spend better, not to spend more."
On 29 June the Commission proposed to increase the EU budget from the current €976 billion to €1.025 billion for the next seven-year period, which starts in 2014 (see 'Background').
However, the Commission proposal is seen as the starting point of what promises to be drawn-out negotiations, with a final decision not expected before the second half of 2012.
The 2014-2020 budget is on the agenda of talks between Europe ministers today (12 September).