By Christina Vasilaki (@christiva), TPP correspondent in Brussels

Early on Thursday morning, the first day of the Summit, activists, farmers, NGO’s and national and international trade unions gathered in five different spots in Brussels and obstructed entry to the main roads with tractors and bales of hay.

A few meters away from the European Council, under a banner proclaiming “merry crisis and a happy new war,” protesters sent their own message to the EU’s 28, against their policy plans for the EU defense industry, the imposing of austerity measures on European countries and the EU-US trade agreement currently being negotiated.

“It is an important first step. For the first time so different parts of the society have a common voice against the threat of austerity and the EU-US trade deal, ”  Pascoe Sabido from Corporate Europe Observatory told New Europe. “We need also to fight against corporate lobbying. Arms industry continues to get millions of euros from the EU to make wars while European governments are forced to cut spending in health and education. European citizens don’t want war. They want health and education,” he stressed.

Philippe Duvivier, from FUGEA Belgium (United Federation of Groups of Breeders and Farmers) told New Europe that Europeans should put pressure on governments not to go ahead with the EU-US trade agreement, which, among other provisions, authorizes the import of chicken, beef and pork of questionable origin and quality and also lifts the ban on the import of GMOs.  “We managed today to bring media here to cover this demonstration. This is a big success because now EU citizens will be aware of what the EU-US trade deal is about. There is still way to fight it,” he said.

On austerity, Vangelis Katergaris, from the Brussels-based Greek organisation “Initiative de Solidarité avec la Grèce qui resiste” commented: “What we want is to mobilise all Europeans to halt this neo-liberal gang that currently rules Europe.”

(First published in New Europe, Dec. 19)