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Mixed messages for May Day marches

Friday, May 01, 2015 - 02:06

May Day parades mark the historic struggle for worker rights across Europe, but with many of today's workers still feeling the bite of austerity, have they got much to celebrate? Sara Hemrajani reports.

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Tens of thousands of Europeans take to the streets to celebrate May Day. The annual marches mark the historic struggle for workers' rights - and in recent years the holiday has taken on added significance following the financial crisis. After years of heartache over recessions, bailouts and budget cuts, Europe finally seems to be turning a corner. The latest set of euro zone figures show economic growth, improved confidence and an end to deflation. Analysts say the combination of the ECB's bond purchase programme, lower energy costs and structural reforms is resulting in more hits than misses. Jan Randolph is from IHS Global Insight. SOUNDBITE: IHS Global Insight, Jan Randolph, saying (English): "Germany, the strong anchor, doing very well, upgraded growth. It pulls along a lot of other countries, smaller countries around it, Eastern Europe in particular. Ireland's doing very well, headline growth probably the fastest in Western Europe. Spain doing exceptionally well, back to form really, in its stride. And Portugal. There are laggards - France, Italy and, of course, the perennial almost problem of Greece. But overall, yes, it's picking up." While there is a surge of optimism, Europe's road to recovery has also led to the rise of anti-EU and anti-austerity movements. In Greece, union members used May Day to call for the country's international lenders to ease up on their demands. While in France, crowds gathered for a speech by far-right politician Marine Le Pen. SOUNDBITE: IHS Global Insight, Jan Randolph, saying (English): "That is the new undercurrent in European politics. And the only thing that really will save the day for the great, big, moderate centre of European politics is revival of growth, is genuine, realistic prospects that people can get a job, people can improve their lives. That's only beginning to come through very slowly though." One dark cloud that hangs over the euro zone is unemployment. Despite the economic pick up, the jobless rate has either remained steady or increased - with nearly one in four young people looking for work.

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Mixed messages for May Day marches

Friday, May 01, 2015 - 02:06