Italian police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands of anti-austerity protesters in Naples, where the European Central Bank (ECB) was holding a monthly policy meeting.
An estimated 4,000 anti-austerity demonstrators took to the streets of Naples on Thursday, carrying placards with caricatures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel amid tight security in the whereabouts of the ECB meeting.
The Italian protesters, including a large group of students and laid-off workers, slammed the ECB for the rise in poverty and unemployment in their country.
“No to the ECB, no to austerity – housing and income for all,” chanted the outraged demonstrators.
Italian riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to push back the protesters who were trying to climb the wall of the building where the ECB meeting was taking place.
Issues such as the recession in Italy, manufacturing stagnation in France and massive unemployment across the eurozone are among major problems that its member states continue to struggle with.
The so-called troika of international lenders, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and the ECB, has urged crisis-torn economies to adopt harsh austerity policies to tackle their financial problems.
Such tough austerity measures and economic reforms have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.
Europe plunged into financial crisis in early 2008. Insolvency now threatens heavily debt-ridden countries such as Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain.