Via WSM Ireland
There were clashes earlier in Brussels between riot police and trade union demonstrators as the EU Summit got underway today. An estimated 20,000 people took part in the demonstration against the austerity agenda being pursued by the EU and its constituent governments.
They were also protesting the “EuroPact”, the pact which was agreed last month to implement EU-wide “competitiveness” measures such as increasing the retirement age and the deterioation of labour conditions, wages and welfare rates. The clashes came as a smaller group of demonstrators came close to the area where the summit is being held, who threw cobblestones at police and tried to break through police barriers. This group swelled considerably as more demonstrators arrived, with riot police deploying water cannons.
Among the topics being discussed at the summit is the increasing pressure being put on Portugal by the speculators in the financial markets. Portugal’s Government collapsed last night as former Prime Minister Socrates failed to get his austerity package through parliament. It seems likely now that Portugal will join Ireland and Greece among the countries under the control of the ECB and IMF. This follows a general strike in Portugal last November which shut down the country for 24 hours, and a popular protest on the 12th of March organised entirely be facebook which drew from 300,000 to half a million people to the streets of the country’s capital.