The leaders of Italy and France have reaffirmed their commitment to the eurozone as efforts continue to boost confidence in currency bloc.

After a meeting in Paris Mario Monti and Francois Hollande stressed the importance of defending, preserving and consolidating the zone.

Investor confidence has strengthened in recent days as speculation mounts that new moves to preserve the euro will come at Thursday's European Central Bank meeting.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said this morning there was light at the end of the tunnel of the euro zone debt crisis.

"Decidedly yes," he said in answer to a question on Italian state radio RAI. "It is a tunnel but ... some light is appearing at the end of the tunnel. We and the rest of Europe are approaching the end of the tunnel."

He added that decisions taken at last month's EU summit were starting to show fruit.

"We are now seeing results both in the willingness of European institutions as well as from the governments of individual countries, including Germany," he said.

After lunching with Mr Hollande, he said there was no time to lose and they had discussed deadlines, adding: "We cannot afford even a minute of distraction."

Data released today showed that joblessness in the euro zone has hit its highest level since the single currency was born.

An additional 123,000 people were out of work in the euro zone in June, figures from Eurostat showed, bringing the unemployment rate to a record high 11.2% across the 17 countries that use the single currency.

Todays meeting between Mr Monti and Mr Hollande came ahead of Thursday's meeting of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank.

Investors expect President Mario Draghi will announce a resumption of the ECB buying government debt.

Mr Draghi has long demanded that eurozone governments increase their efforts to tackle the structural problems in their economies, but it remains unclear what he may seek in return for the ECB buying bonds again.

The ECB chief will also meet Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, a strong opponent of the ECB's government bond purchase programme, ahead of Thursday's ECB meeting.

The ECB has resisted so far stepping up its action for fear of taking away incentives for governments to implement tough reforms.

Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, said on Sunday that eurozone leaders would work with the ECB to stabilise the euro.