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30,000 Protest Eu Economic Woes They Say Poverty, Not Profit, Should Be Issue At Summit

Associated Press

Weary of leaders they say are bent on uniting Europe for profit, 30,000 demonstrators marched against unemployment and poverty Saturday - two days before an EU summit on plans for expansion and a single currency.

Protesters representing labor, socialist and unemployment groups from across Europe arrived at Amsterdam’s city center ahead of the two-day meeting that starts Monday.

“We want a united Europe for young people, not an economic Europe … one that is for work and for the needs of people and freedom,” said protester Eva Gilmort, 22, of Rome.

A group of younger demonstrators scuffled briefly with riot police, but no injuries were reported.

Leaders of the 15 European Union nations will approve reforms to clear the way for East European countries to join the group and discuss plans for a single European currency. Protesters say EU leaders have been so swept up in plans for monetary union that they have ignored the joblessness and poverty their economic policies are causing.

Joblessness now averages 12.8 percent across the EU - more than double the rate in the United States or Japan, Europe’s top trading partners.

Anarchists, gay rights activists and other groups had threatened a “chaos weekend” in Amsterdam, including a “sex riot” in the famed red-light district set for Sunday afternoon.

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