Wednesday's anti-austerity protests across Europe are again disrupting life in major cities, but European leaders are pressing the campaign to end years of over-spending that caused the continent's debt crisis.
Workers in Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome and elsewhere are protesting the deep cuts in popular social programs, pensions and other government programs their governments have imposed. The financial reforms are aimed at meeting the spending limits set by the 17-nation euro currency bloc, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel the chief proponent of tighter controls.
The spending cuts and a stagnant economy in the eurozone have resulted in record unemployment, with many workers angry at their plight. One Spanish union worker blamed corporate interests.
“They are taking all our rights away, all of our rights. The banks and other business people are bringing us onto the streets, they are stealing our salaries. We don't have any rights anymore. It seems that we work like foreigners.”
But the protests are unlikely to alter the course European leaders have chosen in trying to combat the debt crisis.
European leaders applauded the Greek government's efforts in the last week to impose another round of austerity measures. The Athens government's lenders demanded the financial reforms before they would agree to release more money from the second Greek bailout in the last two years, and the rescue terms are still not resolved after weeks of negotiations.
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said the search for financial stability has guided his government's actions.
“The Spanish government has a commitment as regards its fiscal goals and it is that which has logically produced all the government decisions in recent months and weeks. Clearly Spain's commitment to fiscal reduction is important. It's a commitment which which was given for our need to eliminate doubt about the finances of Spain.”