European finance ministers have defended painful austerity measures as a necessary means to defeat the region's debt crisis.
Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado said as the foreign ministers met in Godollo, Hungary, that budget cuts "are necessary because we need to grow and grow better and reduce our deficit to be able to continue paying for the state of well-being."
EU leaders have made austerity measures the keystone of efforts to strengthen the bloc's economy despite widespread popular protests over government spending cuts.
Their meeting on April 9 just outside Budapest is expected to be followed by large union protests in the Hungarian capital against a recent deal to crack down on uncompetitive salary increases and unsustainable pension systems.
compiled from agency reports