ROME – Premier Silvio Berlusconi promised Tuesday to resign after Parliament passes economic reforms demanded by the European Union, capping a two-decade political career that has ended with Italy on the brink of being swept into Europe’s debt crisis.

Berlusconi met for about an hour Tuesday evening with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano after losing his parliamentary majority during a routine vote earlier in the day. In a statement, Napolitano’s office said Berlusconi had “understood the implications of the vote” and promised to resign once parliament passes economic reforms designed to spur growth and rein in Italy’s public debt.

A vote on the measures is planned for next week.

Berlusconi’s government is under intense pressure to enact quick reforms to shore up Italy’s defenses against Europe’s raging debt crisis. However, a weak coalition and doubts over Berlusconi’s leadership ignited market fears of a looming Italian financial disaster that could bring down the 17-nation eurozone and shock the global economy.

Italy’s borrowing rates spiked Tuesday to their highest level since the euro was established in 1999. The yield on Italy’s ten-year bonds was up 0.24 percentage points at 6.77 percent. A rate of over 7 percent is considered unsustainable and proved to be the trigger point that forced Greece, Portugal and Ireland into accepting financial bailouts.

In a dramatic shift from his usually defiant tone, Berlusconi conceded late Tuesday he no longer had a parliamentary majority and would step aside for the good of the country.

“The markets don’t believe that Italy is capable, or has the intention of approving these reforms,” he told his private Mediaset television.

“Things like who leads or who doesn’t lead the government” is less important than doing “what is best for the country,” he said.

The president’s office said that once Berlusconi resigns, Napolitano would begin political consultations to form a new government. The most widely discussed name to lead a technical government is Mario Monti, the former EU competition commissioner, though Berlusconi’s right-hand man, Gianni Letta, and the head of his political party, Angelino Alfano, have also been mentioned — and rejected by the opposition.

Napolitano’s statement made no mention of the possibility of elections, but Berlusconi said he thinks that is the best solution. Berlusconi had previously said he wouldn’t run for a fourth term; he could still, however, present himself as a candidate.

Berlusconi allies want new elections before Parliament can reform the electoral system, which has favored the center-right.