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Strikes signal greater unity problems in eurozone

Demonstrators shout slogans, forcing shops to close for business, at Barajas airport on Nov. 14, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. A coordinated general strike by unions in Spain and Portugal has paralyzed public transport in the two countries with further strikes planned across Europe. The strike against the governments' austerity measures have force hundreds of flights to be cancelled and factories and ports to come to a standstill.

Workers in quite a few European countries were on a general strike today. Those countries included Greece, Portugal and Spain...sensing a pattern here? They're all countries that have implemented austerity measures to bring down large budget deficits.

So what will it all mean for the rest of the eurozone and the continued economic crisis in Europe? Miguel-Anxo Murado, a journalist in Madrid with a front-row seat to the strike, says the general strike was noticeable in the city but didn't completely disrupt daily life. Still, the situation was tense as protesters gathered outside government buildings.

Looking ahead, Murado doesn't think the strike will change the austere budget cuts that inspired the protests and general unease among Europeans. He says the problem lies in the way they see themselves.

"It's very difficult to get people to believe that we live in a community now, a European community in which everything that happens in one country affects everyone else," says Murado. "I'm afraid that in that respect, the European dream is not here. Or if you are pessimistic, it has failed."

Murado says that lack of unity makes it difficult to fix many of the problems that plague the eurozone: "The problems are Pan-European...and the solutions should be Pan-European."

But he says the strike isn't seen as a "Pan-European strike" by European leaders but rather as a series of national strikes.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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