EU leaders tackle jobs creation as Italy, France seek greater flexibility to grow economies

European leaders will debate ways to find work for the continent's 25 million unemployed at a summit Wednesday amid growing popular frustration at the failure of authorities to return the continent's economy to health.

Several thousand union activists protested Wednesday outside the venue, demanding a stop to austerity policies and calling for reforms to encourage investment.

The jobs summit, the third on the issue in under 18 months, will again square off France and Italy, which want to slow the pace of their spending cuts and increase investment by the EU to help growth, against Germany in its role as the main enforcer of austerity.

German Labor Minister Andrea Nahels says countries should start using the EU money that is available before asking for more.