Britain prepares to launch Brexit

But British Prime Minister Theresa May's absence, four days before she launches the two-year Brexit process, and a row over the wording of the Rome declaration underscore the challenges the European Union faces.

Carrying placards painted with clever slogans - such as "I wanna be inside EU" - and waving European flags, the participants gave the march a festive atmosphere that was bolstered by the clear skies and warm weather.

The weekend saw leaders from across Europe arrive in the Italian capital to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

"We want a more powerful Europe, which means that we will have to cooperate more closely in our defense", she said.

Britons voted by 52 percent to end their four-decade membership of the European Union in the June 23 referendum - but 48 percent, or 16 million people, voted to stay.

"With such a close vote, I don't see how anyone can call this the will of the people", Joss Dennis, who had traveled from Bristol in western England, said.

Tusk, too, warned against the impression the European Union was about petty regulations: "Why should we lose our trust in the objective of unity today?" Participants at the march spoke out against far-right tendencies and divisions in the European Union, but also criticized the direction its policies have taken.

"We didn't have a major clash or conflict, contrary to what many thought", Juncker said.

There were also pro-Europe demonstrations.

In London, thousands marched toward Parliament Square, scene of Wednesday's deadly terror attack, calling for Britain to remain in the EU. The organisers of the march had reportedly considered delaying the planned march because of the recent attack to avoid putting extra pressure on British police authorities to ensure security, but nevertheless made a decision to continue with the march.

"While the 27 member states will find it easier to adjust, as they will still benefit from the single market, the customs union and more than 60 trade deals with their worldwide partners, we believe it is in the best interests of both sides to reach a deal on the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU".

The fifth-generation Ayrshire fisherman said: 'The fact that they haven't already announced that is giving us the jitters. Several protesters carried yellow flowers that they laid at the memorial for the victims of the atrocity.

"We are the 48 percent, who voted against Brexit and those who were not allowed to vote against it - the young and the European Union nationals living, working and paying taxes in the UK".

Two weeks ago, parliament approved legislation to allow the prime minister to begin divorce proceedings with Brussels.

The wave of anti-establishment sentiment behind "Brexit" is also on the rise in some European countries, and in France which will hold elections next month, and Italy, which may hold a national vote later this year or early next year.

  • Leroy Wright