Mr. Monti is a former EU commissioner and would lead a so-called “technocratic government” designed to calm markets.
A two-tier Europe has been discussed in hushed tones for more than a year in EU financial and political circles. But Reuters on Thursday quoted an unnamed senior EU official in Brussels saying that "France and Germany have had intense consultations on this issue over the last months, at all levels.”
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso warned this week against entertaining the idea, saying in a Berlin speech that "there cannot be peace and prosperity in the north or in the west of Europe if there is no peace and prosperity in the south or in the east.”
In recent weeks, German chancellor Angela Merkel has appeared to adopt a two-track policy. She strongly supported the concept of a single Europe in rousing statements on Oct. 26 at the Bundestag, and has said that the end of the euro would mean the end of Europe. But she was also ready to see the back of Greece in the eurozone at the G-20 summit Nov. 4.
Critics argue that Mrs. Merkel has been putting the squeeze on Greece and other struggling eurozone states with severe austerity demands that could force them out.
Indeed, in Greece, the crisis is amplified by a popular feeling that future Greek generations will be yoked indefinitely to austerity. Meanwhile, the Germans, often called the paymasters of Europe, are saying they do not want to be yoked indefinitely to a future of expensive bailouts of less competitive nations.