BRUSSELS, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of protesters demonstrated on Thursday in Brussels to demand an end to austerity as European Union (EU) leaders are set to commence a two-day summit that focuses on growth and jobs.
Workers, teachers and union activists from Belgium, France, Germany and other EU states rallied in the Cinquantenaire park near the summit's venue at EU headquarters.
Large banners have been strung at the nearby Schuman roundabout, proclaiming "Austerity Pact, No! Solidarity Pact, Yes!"
Protesters demanded "a change of direction" in tackling the eurozone sovereignty debt crisis, urging EU leaders to end austerity measures that the unions say are worsening the economies already in recession in Europe and pushing up unemployment rate.
In addition, the EU leaders were demanded to boost investment and create badly needed jobs, particularly for the youth.
Unemployment in the eurozone rose to a record 11.9 percent this January, up from 10.8 percent a year ago. The youth (under 25) unemployment rate, meanwhile, is peaking at 24.2 percent.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has said the summit would focus on promoting growth, competitiveness and supporting youth employment.