Thousands of workers in Brussels demand end to austerity as EU leaders meet for summit

Thousands of workers are protesting in Brussels to demand that EU leaders gathering for a summit bring an end to austerity measures and instead focus on boosting growth and reducing unemployment.

Thursday's demonstration vented frustration over years of austerity imposed by EU leaders that unions and many economists say is worsening the recession and driving ever more people into unemployment and poverty.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy has told the 27 EU leaders to "give absolute priority to supporting youth employment." Most leaders, however, remain committed to reducing public debt quickly, mostly through austerity.

Unemployment across the 17 EU countries that use the euro rose to a record 11.9 percent during January, from 10.8 in the previous year. Youth unemployment is also continuing to rise unabated, peaking at 24.2 percent.