David Cameron has demanded a crackdown on Brussels fatcats as he insisted he was ready to veto EU budget increases.
The Prime Minister said 16 per cent of European Commission staff were paid more than 100,000 euros and the “central administration” needed to be curbed.
The comments came as leaders wrapped up another summit dominated by efforts to resolve the eurozone crisis.
Britain and Germany have also been arguing for a real-terms freeze in EU budgets for the next seven years, which are due to be set next month.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Cameron insisted he was ready to veto any “unacceptable” proposals.
“I think it would be good to have a deal, it is good to settle these issues,” he said.
“But it just would not be acceptable to see a huge increase in EU spending at a time when other budgets are being cut.
“The British public expect a tough approach and rigorous approach and that is exactly what they will get.
“If we cannot get a deal, you know, there’s no point doing a deal that is a bad deal.
“If there isn’t a deal that is good for Britain, if there isn’t a deal available then there won’t be a deal.
“We cannot have European spending going up and up and up when we are having to make difficult decisions in so many different areas.
“Having said that, there is plenty that the European budget already does and can do more of.
“My favourite figure for the day, there is I think 16 per cent of employees at the European Commission earning over E100,000 euros.
“What we have done in Britain is we have cracked down on the central administration, the costs of Whitehall.
“There are things that are more important and we need to see that kind of approach.”
As the Commission has around 35,000 employees, Mr Cameron’s comments suggest that 5,600 are paid more than E100,000 euros.
But his 16 per cent figure drew a sharp response from the commission, with sources insisting that proportion applied only among 12,000 higher-level staff, which woukd amount to 1,920 people.
Mr Cameron denied that Britain was failing to “pull its weight” in Europe, amid claims that the UK was marginalised by its refusal to get involved in reforms to shore up the ailing single currency.
This week’s summit of the European Council in Brussels has been dominated by proposals for economic and monetary union and some EU figures have suggested that the UK has been pushed to the sidelines in discussions.
Finland’s Europe minister Alex Stubb said that Britain had “voluntarily put itself in the margins”.
But at a press conference at the conclusion of the summit, Mr Cameron insisted that Britain remained “a very, very important and influential player” and was a driving force behind many of the measures agreed sat the summit and in international issues such as the Syrian crisis.
He confirmed that he will not attend a ceremony to present the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU.
Mr Cameron said: “We are a very active and strong participant in the European Union. Yes, we are a country that is sceptical about further political union in the EU - there are some powers we would like to have back.
“We are realists about the EU, we have a sort of realistic, gritty debate. That is what we are like as a people and I think that’s a thoroughly good thing.