Austerity: Belt tightening general across Europe
1 July 2011
“Wave of social austerity in Europe,” headlines the daily Público, which reports on the "new austerity packages designed to put public accounts back on track that will undermine the progress of the welfare state." Measures recently approved by European governments have prompted opposition across the continent. Along with the demonstrators protesting against the new austerity plan in Greece, UK civil servants have gone out on strike over pension reforms. In Portugal, the special Christmas bonus is to be halved for those who earn more than the minimum wage. In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi’s income tax reforms, have penalised the lowest paid members of the workforce," points out Público, which adds that “even the European Commission will have to tighten its belt.” According to the left-wing daily, the number of EU civil servants is to be cut by 5%, and their retirement age is to be raised from age 63 to age 65. “The official European anthem, which is based on an air by Beethoven, is starting to sound like Chopin’s funeral march,” concludes Público.