Photo of protestors.
Protesters in Europe are fighting the austerity measures. CC by 27389271/Flickr

Europe roiled with strikes and marches Wednesday as citizens protested austerity measures — which include cutting social services and increasing taxes — that governments are enforcing as they try to climb out of the European debt crisis. The big beef among European citizens is that they feel austerity punishes them for the billions that had to be spent to keep the financial system from collapsing. With demonstrations underway, a visiting U.S. Treasury official implored European governments to be careful that austerity doesn’t derail a fragile global economic recovery.

Crowd around the austerity

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Europe in protest of austerity  Wednesday. According to Reuters, trade unions started the protests, and they say that the poorest of citizens will be hurt the most through the austerity that will slow the economic recovery. Trade unions are mad about spending cuts and pension and labor market reforms. Banners were waving in Brussels, Belgium, saying “No to austerity” and “Priority to jobs and growth” in a crowd of 60,000 .

Austerity focuses mostly on social programs

The European Union Commission proposed that there be penalties punishing any member states that have high unemployment rates and are running up deficits to fund social programs, which is what caused the Brussels austerity protests. France is fighting hard and strong against the EU proposal that Germany wants mostly because it wants sanctions to decide things rather than hard rules, reports the Huffington Post. Greek doctors, railway workers and other employees simply walked tout of their jobs in protest. Buses and trains were shut down. The bank bailouts were protested by one man in Ireland, who simply blocked the Irish parliament with a cement truck.

U.S. explains austerity isn’t helping Europe much

Amid all the austerity protests, a top U.S. Treasury official visiting Frankfurt implored European officials to exercise restraint. The difference between the United Sates and Europe when it comes to fixing a global economic climate that is so weak is Americans think stimulus is the answer while Europe believes austerity will work best, reports the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. is urging more stimulus as Europe heads further toward tax increases and spending cuts. Lael Brainard, U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs, explained that the best objective is to support a lasting recovery rather than using austerity to fix the weak global demand.

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