British firms are missing out on public procurement contracts in Europe because of favouritism for homes companies.

British firms are being shut out of deals in the £1,000bn EU public works market according to a new survey. It says that countries offer contracts to home companies even when British firms bid for projects at a lower cost.

In a treasury-commissioned survey, Alan Wood, chief executive of the UK arm of Siemens, found that the benefits of a single market were being compromised by unfair interpretation of the rules.

He told The Times: “There is significant evidence that many of the benefits of competition in public procurement across the EU remain untapped. We found a fairly consistent picture of British firms finding barriers and difficulties in their way.”

Chancellor Gordon Brown will raise the issue at a meeting of EU finance ministers tomorrow in Brussels. He will ask why governments are refusing to open up their markets to achieve better value and quality of service, and call for a clamp down on state aid, which distorts the market.

The report highlighted Spain and France as having particularly uneven playing fields.