Sunday

11th Dec 2016

Europe's cities hit by anti-austerity protests

  • Anti-austerity protesters marched outside the EU institutions (Photo: Agnes Lisik)

Many of Europe's capital cities ground to a halt on Wednesday (14 November) with a series of anti-austerity marches and co-ordinated strikes.

The demonstrations, which amount to the biggest pan-European attack on tough austerity budgets across a number of EU countries, were organised as part of a 'European day of action and solidarity' by the European Trade Union Congress (ETUC).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

More than 80 people were arrested during riots in Madrid. Violence also flared up in Milan and Rome, with riot police firing rubber bullets at protesters.

Elsewhere hundreds of flights and trains were cancelled in Spain and Portugal after unions held their first coordinated general strike.

Bernadette Ségol, the ETUC general secretary, said that "by sowing austerity, we are reaping recession, rising poverty and social anxiety".

"People's exasperation is reaching a peak," she added.

The ETUC reiterated its demand for a legally binding protocol on social policy to be included in any new EU treaty change. A declaration adopted by the ETUC executive committee stated that the budget cuts were "dragging Europe into economic stagnation...as well as the continuing dismantling of the European social model:"

In Brussels, several thousand demonstrators marched from Place Luxembourg outside the European Parliament to the European Commission and Council buildings on Schuman Rondpoint calling for an end to 'casino capitalism' and more social protection for those in work. Further protests were planned in the evening.

Trade unionist marchers were led by the Centrale Nationale des Employés (CNE), which represents 180,000 members. MEPs and officials from the leftist Gue/NGL group and Socialist and Democrat group also had delegations on the march.

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer commented that "today's mobilisations show the need and popular appetite for a radical change of course.

"It is time for economic, democratic, and social solidarity in the EU, not the further aggravation of inequality and social injustice," she added.

Meanwhile, Phillip de Buck, who leads the pan-European business lobby BusinessEurope, said that the unrest would damage the economy. "If you start striking at national level and its companies you will only harm the economy", he said.

EU asylum return focus expands police scrutiny

EU interior ministers agreed to start legislative talks with the EU parliament to expand the scope of an asylum database, Eurodac, to include migrants and stateless people.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The Brexit picture starts to emerge

The week in Westminster and Brussels highlight the difficulty Theresa May faces in trying to keep control of the Brexit timetable.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First