Haunted by the longest jobless lines since World War II, European Union leaders meet in Luxembourg on Thursday and Friday to see how they can act together to reduce the ranks of the bloc's 18 million unemployed.

Unemployment in the 15 nations of the EU averages 10.6 percent, more than double the U.S. rate and more than triple Japan's.

European Union planners want to reduce it to 7 percent by 2002 by cutting labor costs and taxes, making it easier to fire and hire workers, giving small- and medium-size firms a break from red tape and spending more on research and development to keep EU industry competitive.

But EU governments are in no mood to ``harmonize'' their labor laws and will defend their right to legislate their own labor markets according to local conditions.

Associated Press reporters took a look at what's being done by the Netherlands and Belgium _ two neighbors run by governments that include socialists.

But one European socialist is not another these days.

And the choices they make prove it.