This file photo shows the European Union headquarters in the Belgian capital city of Brussels.
At least 40,000 people have taken to the streets in the capital of Belgium for an anti-austerity demonstration, demanding that the government do more to boost the country’s economy.
Belgium’s major trade unions called on workers and activists to rally near the European Union headquarters in the capital city of Brussels on Thursday to demand that the government end the austerity measures that have hurt salaries and to offer a more progressive tax system.
The authorities are currently in talks with unions over labor agreements allowing groups of employees to negotiate their contracts en masse.
This comes as the London-based research group Markit revealed that business activity for the eurozone has decreased over the past year, while showing that the manufacturing and service sectors are still contracting economically.
Like many other European countries, Belgians have been demanding better social conditions to survive the economic crisis gripping the continent.
On February 8, European Union leaders agreed on a deal to slash the EU budget to 960 billion euros (about USD1.3 trillion) for the next seven-year period from 2014 to 2020. The deal is set to be voted on by the European Parliament.
On January 25, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the euro area “continues to pose a large downside risk to the global outlook.” The IMF predicted that the single currency area would remain in recession in 2013.
The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.