Thousands of protesters in the Italian city of Milan have demonstrated outside the venue of the European employment summit against European Union’s job policies.
The demonstrators held the rally on Wednesday after marching through the city, demanding an end to government austerity policies and calling for reforms to encourage investment.
Maurizio Landini, the general secretary of the Italian metalworkers’ union, FIOM, said EU leaders are responsible for the high unemployment, as their policies applied in recent years “have caused 25 million unemployed people in Europe.”
Landini added that in order to change the situation in Europe, Brussels should amend “those policies, to overcome austerity, the fiscal compact, and budget balancing, to restart investments and to build a real European welfare.”
The protest was staged outside the venue of the EU meeting, in which European leaders were to discuss measures to increase economic growth and create more jobs in a bid to tackle the region’s high unemployment rate.
Italy and France seek a slower pace in spending cuts and favor an increase in EU investment to help growth, while Germany backs austerity.
According to the latest figures, the bloc’s jobless rate stands at 11.5 percent. The unemployment rate is even worse among those aged between 15 and 24, as 23.3 percent are without work.
Europe is struggling with an economic crisis that erupted in early 2008. Budget cuts aimed at controlling deficits have only worsened the unemployment, slashing thousands of public sector jobs.