AP. 13 December 2001. 80,000 Hold Peaceful Demonstration Ahead of EU
Leaders Summit.

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Some 80,000 people marched through the Belgian
capital Thursday, demanding the European Union give labor unions a
larger role in shaping social policy and do more to cut unemployment.

The march came on the eve of a two-day summit of EU leaders that is
expected to draw anti-globalization activists from across Europe for
three other planned demonstrations. Police have stepped up security,
fearing a repeat of the violent protests that have accompanied
gatherings in recent years.

However, Thursday's march was peaceful.

"This is an appeal for a more social Europe, we are not against Europe,"
said Waltraud Etz, spokeswoman at the European Trade Union
Confederation, which organized Thursday's march.

"We want more jobs and better quality jobs as the economic situation
isn't great," she said.

The group, which represents 60 million European workers from 25
countries, demands quality public services, more workers rights,
improved safety conditions at the workplace and an EU commitment to tone
down "today's unbridled globalization."

Unions and other groups presented Belgian Prime Minister Guy
Verhofstadt, who is hosting the summit, with a declaration setting out
their demands.

A separate declaration was handed over by a group of 45 activist
organizations calling on EU leaders to "send a strong signal" that the
EU "is firmly committed to the eradication of poverty."

Meanwhile Belgian police detained 43 anti-globalization protesters near
the city center, after they chained themselves to an abandoned building,
protesting the lack of housing in Brussels for visiting demonstrators.

City police Commissioner Christian De Coninck said the protesters were
apprehended as a precaution. "This was an action by people that are well
organized. We are ready for them," he said.

Thirty of the detained activists came from France, five from Greece, two
from Ireland, and two from Australia, police said, adding that all
non-Belgian nationals detained were told to leave the country after
being released. The other activists detained were Belgian.

Wary of a repeat of violent summit protests in recent years, Brussels
police are taking tough security measures and deploying 3,000 police
officers for the summit.

Police helicopters and water cannons were deployed alongside riot police
and horse patrols on the streets, officials said.

Belgian air force F-16 fighters were also to be placed on alert as the
threat of a possible terrorist attack looms large after the events of
Sept. 11.

Large areas around the wooded grounds of the royal palace of Laeken -
the summit venue - were off-limits to demonstrators as well as the
downtown houses of parliament and the Grand' Place, Brussels' historic
central square.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Barry Stoller
with photo attachments of the demo

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