British Prime Minister David Cameron interrupted an EU summit on Friday to demand an emergency finance ministers meeting over a demand from Brussels for an extra 2.1 billion euros from London, sources said.
Cameron's demand came hours after the European Commission said that Britain had to pay the money, equivalent to $2.6 billion, under new budgetary rules because its economy is thriving while Europe's stalls.
"He made an intervention at the council," a British government source told AFP, referring to the European Council meeting of the 28 EU heads of state and government in Brussels on Friday.
"They had quite a bit of discussion on it. (Cameron) said there needed to be a discussion of the 28 finance ministers, a meeting of the finance ministers to discuss it."
The finance ministers' meeting would be at a later date, the source said, adding that Cameron had remained in the council meeting for further discussions on the European economy.
Another British source said Cameron had confronted Jose Manuel Barroso, the head of the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, over the issue on Friday.
"The prime minister told Barroso he had no idea of the impact" of the demand, the source said, adding that Cameron said it was "not just public opinion, it's about two billion euros."
British sources said Cameron would work with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country was also hit by a demand for money from the EU, to challenge the issue.
The surcharge is a fresh blow for Cameron, who faces an election in May and has promised an in-out referendum on Britain's EU membership in 2017 to curb a growing threat to his Conservative party from the eurosceptic leader Nigel Farage.
The surcharge is based on a revision in the way that the economic output of EU states is calculated dating back to 1995, a figure which includes previously hidden elements such as drugs and prostitution, and the overall economic situation of each country.