Politicians and protesters over the weekend in Rome

"Today it is not enough to call for unity and to protest against multiple speeds", he said in a speech in front of the 27 European Union leaders (minus Britain's Theresa May who is buy writing a letter to formally trigger Article 50 that will be delivered in Brussels on Wednesday). "Only by staying united can we pass on to future generations a more prosperous, a more social and a safer Europe", Juncker said.

"We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction", the addition to EU policy reads in the treaty - a concept which has faced opposition from a number of Eastern European states that was introduced by France and Germany.

Italy used to be one of the most pro-EU states in Europe, but support has waned, with many people angry about the euro currency, which they hold responsible for the country's marked economic decline since its launch in 1999.

Desperately trying to portray that sustained unity is the only way ahead in a globalized world, the no-show of British Prime Minister Theresa May was a symbol of the cathartic crisis the 27 other European Union nations are going through.

The declaration, adopted in Rome on Saturday, comes as the European Union faces pressure from rising nationalism, the refugee crisis and the looming exit of Britain from the bloc.

RT's video agency Ruptly filmed the 8,000-strong march, dubbed "Another Europe".

"Unfortunately, we stopped" he said, and "it triggered a crisis of rejection". "Together, we can best respond to contemporary challenges, foster growth and stability, while promoting our common values and interests", he said.

Federalists, nationalists, populists, unionists and anarchists were all catered for in the Italian capital which is also playing host to official events marking the 60th anniversary of the EU's founding treaty.

With Britain's planned withdrawal, European Union leaders are also looking with concern about the future membership of other countries, including France, a major European Union power.

"Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe in relation to the rest of the world", Tusk said.

"The Government must clarify which European Union agencies it plans to replace and at what cost to the public purse".

Writing in the Financial Times, the Frenchman said: "It goes without saying that a no-deal scenario, while a distinct possibility, would have severe consequences for our people and our economies".

"We will act together, moving in the same direction, with a different rhythm and intensity when necessary, as we did in the past, in line with the European Union treaties and leaving the door open to those who want to join later".

Marchers in Rome's streets. "A free, democratic Europe", said Lucio Pagani, a white-haired unionist walking in warm spring sunshine.

  • Leroy Wright