Thousands of people from across the European Union are expected to take to the streets of Brussels today in protest against austerity budgets imposed by national governments.
Widespread unrest caused disruption in Greece earlier this year, with protests now spreading as governments seek to reduce deficits.
Protests are planned for Italy, Latvia, Ireland and Serbia later today, while a general strike in Spain has closed airspace to commercial aviation traffic, with severe disruption expected.
Flag-carrier Iberia has confirmed it will operate 35 per cent of its scheduled flights under the minimum services agreement negotiated between the unions and the government.
Spain has been hard hit by the global recession, with unemployment doubling in just three years, while the Republic of Ireland has seen unemployment figures at their highest level in ten years.
In Britain – where the new coalition government is planning to cut spending by as much as 25 per cent – strikes have so far largely been restricted to the private sector, while disruption has been minimised.
In France angry protests against a planned increase in the minimum retirement age have also caused unrest.
European Trade Union Confederation
Events across Europe are being organised by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
In a statement the supranational body said it hoped 100,000 people would take to the streets across on a European Day of Action.
ETUC general secretary, John Monks, commented: “Austerity measures are still in the decision-making stage but their implementation will have a disastrous impact on individuals and on the economy once the effects start being felt, which could be as early as this winter.
“Such measures are already in force in Ireland and Greece and it is clear that they are not having any impact on growth and employment.”