The European Commission has pulled the plug on the UK’s right to host the title - despite the Government launching a competition last year.
Dundee was competing against Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Belfast/Derry for the honour.
Martine Reicherts, director-general of the European Commission’s education and culture department, has told the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: “After consulting relevant services of the commission, I would like to inform you that following its withdrawal from the European Union, the participation of the United Kingdom in the European Capital of Culture action will not be possible.
“As a consequence of the above, and also on grounds of sound and responsible management of human and financial resources, the commission considers that the selection process should immediately be discontinued.”
A spokeswoman for the Dundee 2023 bid said: “The bid team are urgently seeking clarification on what this statement will mean for the Dundee bid and we will be speaking to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as soon as possible.”