Paris: The leaders of France and Germany called forcefully on Tuesday for a new European Union treaty that would automatically punish countries that use the euro if they violate existing limits on overspending.

Stocks and the euro rose while European government bond yields dropped sharply as investors viewed the proposal for a closer fiscal union among the 17 countries as an important step to save the euro.

Implementing treaty changes could take months, but a commitment to tighter coordination could open the way for further emergency aid from the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund or some combination.

"Our wish is to go on a forced march toward re-establishing confidence in the eurozone," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We don't have time. We are conscious of the gravity of the situation and of the responsibility that rests on our shoulders."

Investors have been hopeful that the pair will get what they want at a summit in Brussels on Friday, where failure could doom the euro.

There is a risk that implementing the proposals won't move fast enough for markets or the most heavily indebted countries.

Countries like Italy and Spain need help now to keep their bond yields — the cost of their borrowing down.

Sarkozy said he and Merkel would prefer that the treaty be agreed by all 27 members of the European Union, but he left the door open to one that just covers the eurozone and anyone else "who wants to join us."

Sarkozy and Merkel made several proposals, some of which could be enshrined in a new treaty.

They included: automatic punishment for any government that allows its deficit to exceed 3 per cent of GDP.

Governments are supposed to follow this rule already, but many, including France, have flouted it; requiring countries to enshrine in law a promise to balance their budgets; never again asking private investors to take losses, as a bailout of Greece did; making Europe's bailout fund permanent by the end of next year, rather than mid-2013; and holding monthly European summits until the crisis is over.

(Agencies)