The Government has fired a fresh broadside at Brussels over "breathtaking" demands for a bigger EU budget.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Greg Clark rounded on the European Commission at the start of acrimonious talks to agree EU spending levels for next year.
The Prime Minister is already on the warpath over pressure for an inflation-busting 11% increase in the EU's 2014-2020 financial programme - threatening a veto at a summit in a fortnight unless there is at least a spending freeze, if not cuts.
On Friday, the target was the 2013 budget, with the Commission demanding a 6.8% increase on this year's 129 billion euro (£103 billion) total. Eurocrats also want an extra 9 billion (£7.2 billion) on the 2012 budget because of insufficient funds to cover all policy commitments.
British efforts to force a freeze for next year were defeated earlier this year, but fellow EU governments did slash the 6.8% demand to 2.79%. However, last month MEPs voted to reinstate the full 6.8%, triggering the new "conciliation" talks in an attempt to find a compromise.
Bitterness set in at a European Parliament meeting ahead of joint talks with ministers in Brussels.
Richard Ashworth, leader of the UK's Conservative MEPs, said he had made clear that not all MEPs backed the 6.8% rise, telling Parliament President Martin Schulz that he was "completely out of touch with political reality" at a time of painful national budget cuts.
The meeting had become acrimonious - and then Mr Clark renewed the fight when ministers began negotiations with the Parliament and Commission.
The UK was making budget cuts of nearly 20% in almost all departments, said Mr Clark. IMF forecasts suggested national government spending across the EU was falling by more than 8% between 2010 and 2012. With that in mind "most people around this table should recognise the need to reduce rather than increase budgets", Mr Clark said.
He said the Commission itself had reduced its growth forecasts for this year and next, and called for "sound public finances" to restore confidence essential for growth.