European Union celebrates 60th anniversary of founding Treaty with Declaration of Rome

Alicia Guzman
March 26, 2017

Meeting without British Prime Minister Theresa May, the other 27 member countries signed a declaration of unity on the Capitoline Hill where six founding states signed the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957.

A crowd of far-right activists waving banners that read "F**k EU" protested "tyranny in Brussels", blaming eurocrats for inflicting poverty, austerity and uncontrollable migration upon Italians as Rome marks the 60th anniversary of a landmark European treaty.

It stated: "We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction". "Some people will deem it to be overambitious, some will deem it to be not ambitious enough", Gentiloni added.

Francis welcomed the prime ministers and presidents of 27 European Union member countries to the Vatican as part of commemorations marking the bloc's 60th birthday. The prime minister will write to Tusk on Wednesday to formally announce that the EU's second-biggest economy is to leave the union, a process that will involve two years of negotiations.

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Symbolising the divisions, rival demonstrations for and against the European Union took place in Rome, watched by a heavy police presence.

The "great predecessors" of today's leaders "at that time did not discuss multiple speeds, they did not devise exits, but despite all the tragic circumstances of the recent history, they placed all their faith in the unity of Europe", Tusk said. That event helped lay the groundwork for Saturday's union.

The divisions in the European Union have deepened considerably since the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent deep recession that sent unemployment into double digit levels and triggered the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal and the rescue of Spain's banks.

Speaking at a summit prior to the start of the weekend celebrations in Rome, Francis addressed European leaders including Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande on 24 March and pressed them for the need of worldwide solidarity, which he said was the "most effective antidote to modern forms of populism".

Among the European leaders who were present for the papal address were Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council; Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission; and Antonio Tajani, ther President of the European Parliament.

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Global Britain will be more than just a trading nation; we will continue to play a significant role in defence and security, promoting and protecting the interests of our people around the world. Today, we are proud of the European Union as the most successful peace project in the world, uniting 500 million people living in freedom and prosperity.

Much has been said recently of Europe's collective failure to spend 2% of national GDPs on defense.

The symbolism of EU leaders gathering among the ruins of the ancient Roman empire could not be more telling, as the union struggles to renew itself in the face of rising populism, nationalism, the shock of Brexit, the US's increasingly unpredictable policy, and renewed Russian threats.

On a day of ceremonies Saturday, the 27 leaders are set to approve a Rome declaration to commit to a united future and see how to deal with the myriad crises which has beset them over the past decade. "Europe is our common future", the declaration said.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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