The European Commission has warned Italy, France, Portugal and Belgium that their 2018 draft budget plans pose risks to meeting EU debt and deficit-reduction targets and has asked Spain for an updated budget draft that contains more information.

In letters addressed to each of the five governments, the Commission pointed out that the reduction in their structural deficits - the budget balance that strips out business cycles wings in revenue and expenditure and one off items - fell short of what EU rules required.

The letters are part of the EU's budgetary rules, which give the EU executive arm the right to check if draft national budgets are constructed in line with EU laws that put limits on budget deficit and debt.