European shares fell on Thursday after France and Germany told Athens it would not receive its next aid tranche until the referendum had passed, sparking fears Greece could default and the crisis could spread to larger economies.

Investor sentiment took a hit after France and Germany made it clear to Athens that the country will not receive a cent of the next aid package until after the referendum and it decides whether it wants to stay in the 12-year-old currency bloc.

Banks were the main focus due to their exposure to sovereign debt, with BNP Paribas among the worst hit, down 4.6 percent, after it reported a bigger-than-expected 2 billion-euro (1.7 billion pound) charge on Greek debt.

There is massive uncertainty, is Greece going to come out of the euro, Andrea Williams, who manages $2.1 billion in assets for Royal London Asset Management, said.

We are trying to avoid exposure to domestic Europe, we were concerned about European growth anyway, but now it is going to be absolutely dreadful. We are trying to avoid anything with over exposure to Italy and Spain.

By 7:05 a.m., the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top shares was down 1.4 percent at 958.53 points.

(Reporting by Joanne Frearson)