German Chancellor Angela Merkel was besieged by critics for letting the euro crisis smolder, with the leaders of Italy and the European Central Bank demanding bolder steps to stabilize the 17-nation economy.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and ECB President Mario Draghi pushed Germany to give up its opposition to direct euro-area aid for struggling banks. Monti further antagonized Germany by urging a roadmap to common borrowing.

Calling himself a devotee of German-style budgetary rigor, Monti told a Brussels conference yesterday that Merkel's vision of a stable economy "risks being undermined because of lack of promptness in setting up the necessary instruments to limit the contagion."

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