The European Commission has denied claims that Brussels had issued an ultimatum to David Cameron over his attitude towards
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso held talks with the Prime Minister in Brussels last week and, according to the Times, made clear his frustration over what is seen as a British bid to play EU powerbroker from outside the eurozone.
Mr Cameron is accused of wanting the best of both worlds - no responsibility for eurozone bailouts and exemptions from EU financial rules which might harm the City of London. Mr Cameron is under pressure from Tories to capitalise on any forthcoming EU Treaty change designed to help the eurozone to seek the repatriation of powers to London.
According to the Times, in the run-up to another crucial EU summit next month, Mr Barroso told him to make a choice between defending the City of London and maintaining in the EU.
The Commission flatly denied the reports of the conversation.
In a statement issued in Brussels, a spokesman said: "We totally refute the claim made today on the front page of the Times.
President Barroso has repeatedly called for strong financial centres in Europe, including in the City of London.
"President Barroso did not say to Prime Minister Cameron that he must choose between protecting the City of London and influence in the European Union."
Mr Cameron has been pressing hard for completion of the single market, particularly financial services, as part of the EU jobs and growth agenda - something Mr Barroso has also been pushing for.
In their joint statement issued after last week's Brussels meeting, the pair said: "President Barroso and Prime Minister Cameron agreed on the importance of prioritising the decisive action needed to ensure the stability of the euro area as well as fast-tracking measures to stimulate growth and jobs.
"They both underlined the central importance of further developing the single market to deliver its full growth potential in the interests of businesses and citizens across the Union and especially to help small and medium-sized enterprises."