6th Jun 2023

Strike: Minimal disruption to EU summit

  • EU leaders were planning to use a military airport, but the situation could still change (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Brussels' main airport was working as normal and access roads to the EU capital were open on Monday (30 January) despite a general strike on the day of the summit.

The main airport in Zaventem cancelled some flights as a precaution - from Washington, Frankfurt and Berlin among others - and warned of delays, but several early flights from African and European destinations landed as normal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A spokeswoman for the Belgian federal police told this website there are "no problems whatsoever" getting into Brussels by car.

She noted that protesters had planned to set up roadblocks on entry points, but one, in the Drogenbos district, had already been dismantled. "They can always try, but the police has the right to clear them," she said.

She added there are no big rallies scheduled in the EU capital. But the heads of three trade unions - the FGTB, CSC and CGSLB - aim to speak to press outside the summit venue at 11.30am local time.

An EU official noted that leaders had planned to use a military airport in Beauvechain, some 30km outside Brussels, and to transfer to the summit venue by helicopter if necessary. "The summit starts at 3pm, so we are taking stock of the situation as it develops," he said.

A spokesman for the Danish EU presidency said Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was coming into Beauvechain as things stood at 9am.

Meanwhile, Belgian press reports that journalists at the summit - the 14th in just two years as the EU tries to keep up with financial developments - will not get their customary free lunch due to problems with catering services, making do with water and sandwiches instead.

The glitch is in keeping with the Danish presidency, which earlier announced it would be serving tap water at its events as a symbol of hard times.

The general strike is the first in Belgium in 18 years and targets austerity measures designed to save €11 billion.

There will be no international trains. The country's second airport, in Charleroi, is closed. There is no public transport or postal services. Schools have suspended classes. Hospitals are offering basic services only and pickets are expected outside the Peugot car plant, big supermarkets and outside the Dexia bank and AG insurance headquarters.

For their part, FGTB trade union leaders said in a statement that the austerity measures unfairly hit rank-and-file workers and will harm growth: "The efforts of the banks have been limited [and] the fight against tax evasion has been left to one side ... this austerity plan has been designed to please the financial markets."

Anti-austerity angst in Belgium is not confined to the working classes, however.

"Who knows [economic affairs commissioner] Olli Rehn? Who knows where he has come from and what he has done? Nobody. Yet he tells us how we should conduct economic policy. Europe has no democratic legitimacy to do that," the country's enterprise minister, Paul Magnette said earlier this month after Rehn called for deeper cuts in the Belgian budget than originally foreseen.

EU leaders trying to shift focus from deficits to jobs

Besides a treaty on fiscal discipline, European leaders meeting in Brussels on Monday will also seek to adopt non-binding measures on employment. Their summit will come in the midst of a general strike expected to paralyse the EU capital.

IMF looking for extra cash to stem euro-crisis

The International Monetary Fund is seeking an extra $500 billion to help stem the eurozone crisis, with world growth forecasts slashed once more Wednesday. But the source of the new funding is unclear.


Final steps for EU's due diligence on supply chains law

Final negotiations on the EU due diligence law begin this week. But will this law make companies embed due diligence requirements in their internal processes or incentive them to outsource their obligations to third parties?

Latest News

  1. Final steps for EU's due diligence on supply chains law
  2. Top EU court rules Poland's court reforms 'infringe law'
  3. Sweden's far-right is most anti-Green Deal party in EU
  4. Strengthening recovery, resilience and democracy in regions, cities and villages
  5. Why Hungary cannot be permitted to hold EU presidency
  6. Subcontracting rules allow firms to bypass EU labour rights
  7. Asylum and SLAPP positions in focus This WEEK
  8. Spanish PM to delay EU presidency speech due to snap election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us