EU Leaders Pledge Unity While Members Move "At Different Paces"

After welcoming the leaders to the Renaissance-era Palazzo dei Conservatori, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said: "We have had 60 years of peace in Europe and we owe it to the courage of the founding fathers".

Mr Juncker was speaking at a meeting of the remaining 27 member states in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the founding agreement of the EU.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said that sustained unity for was the only way for the EU to survive.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to trigger Article 50 of the European Union treaty on Wednesday (March 29), which will set the formal proceedings of Brexit on motion.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo only agreed to sign the declaration at the last minute, after bitterly opposing a reference to a "multi-speed" Europe favoured by powerhouse states France and Germany, AFP said. "Europe is our common future".

May has announced she will send her letter next Wednesday to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

"If Article 50 is triggered we'll do everything we can to stop the damage this government is causing". "And only a sovereign Europe guarantees independence for its nations, guarantees freedom for its citizens", he said.

With Britain exiting the European Union and Eurosceptic parties such as the National Front in France and Alternative for Germany (AfD) on the rise, Pope Francis urged an end to divisions on the continent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed the softeners in the text when she told reporters that "we want to get in the same direction" but spoke of a multi-speed European Union as a reality: "A Europe of different speeds doesn't mean that it's not a common Europe", she said after the ceremony. The rally in Warsaw, which is being held under the slogan "I Love You, Europe", also comes as an expression of disapproval for the nationalist government in Warsaw.

Marking the 60th anniversary of the European Union, the Rome declaration allows the European Union nations move at different paces on specific issues.

More than 5,000 police, including anti-terrorism units and snipers, were deployed to Rome's streets to enforce a ban on trucks and guard the routes of six demonstrations both in favor of and against the bloc.

At the same time though, the summit in sun-splashed springtime Rome, where new civilizations were built on old ruins time and again, there also was a message of optimism.

Separately, The Sunday Times reports that ministers in the Brexit department last week put forward plans to maintain support on offer to European Union citizens now living in the UK.

Four marches and two sit-in protests took place, with some groups protesting the EU, the euro, and European migration policy, while others marches in support of the union.

Britain says that it will trigger the negotiations to leave the bloc on March 29, only days after the summit.

  • Zachary Reyes