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Brussels public transport to be disrupted as unions protest against European Union austerity plans

Unions are preparing for demonstrations in Brussels against the European Union’s austerity plans. The protest is expected to cause significant disruption to public transport, The Brussels Times reports.

European rules require each member state to keep its annual deficit below 3 per cent and its debt-to-GDP ratio below 60 per cent. However, about half of the eurozone countries exceed the 60 per cent threshold.

To comply with these rules, Belgium would have to save 4 billion euros a year for seven years or 7 billion euros a year for four years. This amounts to 7 billion euros in 2025, 14 billion euros in 2026, 21 billion euros in 2027 and 28 billion euros in 2028.

You don’t need to be an economist to see the imminent pressure on these rights

The union highlighted the staggering figures, pointing out that 28 billion euros is three times the hospital budget, seven times the annual state subsidy to SNCB and more than the education budget. They expressed concern that these austerity measures would undermine social rights, stressing that “you don’t need to be an economist to see the imminent pressure on these rights”.

Last December, thousands of trade unionists from different European countries already rallied in Brussels against austerity while European finance ministers discussed the revision of budgetary rules.

Solidarity mechanism

On Tuesday, trade unions are mobilising again to intensify their demands. They are calling for a European solidarity mechanism similar to the one used during the Covid-19 pandemic, which would provide funds to safeguard workers’ jobs and incomes.

Due to the protest, Brussels public transport operator STIB is expecting “serious disruptions” to bus, tram and metro services. Walloon public transport operator TEC is also preparing for disruption. Flemish public transport operator De Lijn and Belgian railway operator SNCB have not received any information from the unions about staff participation in the protest.

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