Demonstrators shout slogans, forcing shops to close for business, at Barajas airport on November 14, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. - 

A wave of strikes has swept across much of Europe today. The protests, which have been widely coordinated by the European Trade Union Federation, are concentrated in southern Europe, where unemployment is high and spending cuts have been severe. Symbolic demonstrations have also broken out in Germany and Beligium.

The protests come as "people's exasperation is reaching a peak," according to a statement by Bernadette Segol, Secretary General of the European Trade Union Federation. While many officials insist austerity is the fiscally responsible path, many Europeans are pushing back, arguing the results are too painful.