Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said Tuesday that the end of the tunnel is in sight for Italy and the European Union, as he sets off for talks with eurozone leaders on saving the beleaguered currency.
"We and the rest of Europe are getting closer to the end of the tunnel. There's light at the end of the tunnel," Monti said in an interview with Rai Radio ahead of a meeting in Paris with France's President Francois Hollande.
"The decisions we took ... on June 28 and 29 are very important (and) ... now we are seeing the consequences, in terms of greater willingness on the part of European institutions and governments" to put them into action, he said.
The key to surviving the crisis "is the implementation without delay of the decisions taken in Brussels," he added, referring to what was described at the time as a "breakthrough" June 28-29 EU summit.
The decisions included an accord for the eurozone's future 500 billion euro ($600 billion) bailout fund to recapitalise ailing banks directly, without adding to the national debt of struggling countries.
The meeting with Hollande Tuesday will be Monti's first stop on a mini-European tour which he hopes will help "secure the euro and give a decisive boost to European growth," he told Rai's 'Radio Anch'io' programme.
After Paris, Monti will meet Finland's Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen Helsinki on Wednesday and Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy in Madrid on Thursday. He is also expected in Berlin and The Hague later this month.
The former EU commissioner's comments were part of a concerted offensive to calm the markets and followed promises from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Hollande, Monti and the European Central Bank to do everything to save the eurozone.
Merkel, seen as the linchpin of any crisis response, issued a joint statement with Monti on Sunday, reiterating their determination to "do everything to protect the eurozone" and keep the 17-nation bloc together.
It followed a similar declaration by Merkel and Hollande on Friday, as the eurozone's top brass threw their weight behind ECB head Mario Draghi's promise to do "whatever it takes" to protect the single currency from meltdown.
The confidence-boosting statements felled borrowing costs as traders anxiously waited for intervention to help Italy and Spain from the ECB and the European rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility.
As investor nerves steadied, Italy's borrowing costs dropped. The rate on the closely watched 10-year bond fell to 5.96 percent at an auction on Monday, dipping below the key 6.0-percent threshold and from 6.19 percent in June.
Monti's assurances that the end of the crisis is in sight came, however, as Italy's official statistics agency published said unemployment hit a record 10.8 percent in June, up from 10.6 percent in May.
Seasonally adjusted figures showed a rise of 37.5 percent on a year earlier.
The figures are based on people actively looking for work. While youth employment was down to 34.3 percent from 35.3 percent in May, the drop may the result of youngsters giving up on their search for employment.
Despite increasing concern among investors over Italy's future following a general election scheduled for April next year, Monti has refused to be drawn on whether he can be convinced by supporters to stand for prime minister.
"I am consciously tuning out that question," he told Rai radio.