Germany warned it could not save the eurozone alone and borrowing costs left Spain on the ropes as Italy and France held crisis talks aimed at tackling the debt crisis on Thursday.
Meeting in Rome, Italian Premier Mario Monti and France's Francois Hollande stressed more needed to be done to ease market pressures amid black news for Spain, worrying signs in Italy and concern over the upcoming Greek election.
"The progress made, including in the governance of the eurozone, is not sufficient and we need to strengthen the weak parts of the system," Monti said, adding that the views of Italy and France on the crisis were closely linked.
International financial watchers are waiting with baited breath for a crucial Greek election which may see Athens exit the eurozone and could have a knock-on effect on struggling Spain and Italy.
With just three days to go before Greeks vote to continue with austerity or bring in a party which has promised to tear up the bailout conditions, Monti and Hollande said they hope Greece will stay in the eurozone.
"I want to reaffirm the hope, shared with President Hollande, that Athens will remain in the eurozone and respect its engagements," Monti said.
The reference to the need to tackle governance in the eurozone came after Germany-fuelled calls for a big leap towards further EU integration.
Chancellor Angela Merkel had issued a harsh warning earlier Thursday on the impossibility of Berlin saving the eurozone on its own.
"Germany is strong, Germany is an engine of economic growth and a stability anchor in Europe. But Germany's powers are not unlimited," she said in a speech outlining Berlin's position ahead of the June 18-19 G20 meeting in Mexico.
In an attempt to ease the tension, Monti said he knew that "Merkel is continually looking for a solution for Europe" and "is always interested in finding the best answers both on growth and on stability."
The talks came a week before a key four-way summit at the end of June.
Monti said the leaders had "exchanged opinions on the hypothesis" of "shared bonds" and discussed "sovereign debt and instruments to re-establish confidence in the most-exposed countries."
Presidential sources in Paris said Hollande has prepared a "road map" which probes the benefits of pooling debt.
But Merkel earlier said that those clamouring for Germany to "pour billions into eurobonds, stability funds, European bank deposit guarantee funds" wanted a quick crisis fix that was unsustainable.
She stressed Europe would only find a way out of the crisis with a strong "political union" with greater fiscal coordination and oversight and insisted "financing growth with new borrowing must stop."
While Italy reeled from a painful bond session Thursday, Spain's borrowing costs shattered euro-era records after Moody's downgraded its debt close to junk-bond status and warned of a growing risk of a full-blown bailout.
The eurozone's fourth biggest economy was forced last week to accept a bank bailout of up to 100 billion euros ($126 billion) but it failed to impress the bond markets, which fear the rescue may have added to the Spanish debt problem.
An audit of Spanish banks will show they need up to 65 billion euros of fresh capital, the ABC daily said, citing a draft report by auditors Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger -- and rumours spread it may need a second bailout.
Meanwhile, nerves were stretched to straining point in Greece, which is running out of cash for salaries and pensions and where depression is rife.
Labour Minister Antonis Roupakiotis said that Greece should have enough cash to pay pensions at least for July after the Kathimerini daily said the state only had enough money to pay salaries and pensions until July 20.
Unemployment figures Thursday showed the jobless rate jumped to 22.6 percent in the first quarter, though the Greek stock market closed more than 10.0 percent higher, apparently reflecting an upsurge of confidence.
Greece has already been forced to seek international help twice, first for 110 billion euros in May 2010 and then for 130 billion euros earlier this year plus a 107-billion-euro private debt write-off.