May 31 - Thousands of demonstrators from the anti-capitalist Blockupy movement cut off access to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt to protest against policymakers' handling of Europe's debt crisis. It comes as the region's unemployment figures hit new highs and inflation sits well below the ECB's target. Ciara Sutton reports.
Anti-austerity protests hit Germany, home of the ECB. Thousands of demonstrators from the anti-capitalist Blockupy movement cut off access to the Central Bank in Frankfurt, protesting against policymakers' handling of Europe's debt crisis. Holding signs reading "humanity before profit", protesters blocked roads - including those leading to Deutsche Bank's headquarters. (SOUNDBITE) (German) DEMONSTRATOR, KAI, SAYING: "I am protesting against the austerity politics of the so-called "Troika" and the leadership of Angela Merkel. I have a dead man up here to symbolise that austerity kills, especially in the health care system in Greece. We are also expecting consequences in Spain." While the German economy has been relatively resilient, governments - particularly in southern Europe, have cut spending and raised taxes, contributing to widespread recession. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESMAN FOR BLOCKUPY, SAYING: "We think it is legitimate to hold such events of civil disobedience because the politics of the ECB and the whole "Troika" is leading to unbearable living standards for people in many countries. That is why we are doing this." The protest comes as euro zone unemployment figures hit fresh highs and inflation remains well below the ECB's target. The 12.2 percent jobless figure for April shows the size of the challenge EU leaders are facing to revive the bloc's economy. With one in four young people unable to find work in the euro zone, there are fears the region is facing a 'lost generation'. Expectations are mounting for the ECB to act to revive the economy and take fresh policy action. But analysts aren't convinced a potential rate cut next week will be enough to help the current situation. Alpesh Patel is from Praefinium Partners (SOUNDBITE) (English) Alpesh Patel, Analyst, founding Partner, Praefinium Partners "It's not going to make much difference whether they do or not in terms of either the likelihood of increasing jobs, creating jobs, boosting growth, or changing market sentiment. Because it's like a type of marginal benefit given how low rates are in any event. So that's not actually going to be the answer. There seems to be a greater requirement, not on the monetary policy side, but probably the fiscal side, and that's what they really need to focus on." So as Blockupy continues its standoff - expected to go into a second day - euro zone governments will continue their own battle to focus on reform in a bid to bring back growth.