Tens of thousands in London protest against Britain's European Union departure

But the run-up to the celebrations had been tainted by bitter divisions among European Union members, with both Poland and Greece threatening to refuse to sign a formal declaration of unity unless given concessions on key issues such as immigration and austerity.

The adoption of the declaration was not without tensions.

The demand of the head of the Greek government was rejected alleging it had been included previously in other Union declarations.

During the signing ceremony, Szydlo seemed to poke fun at the controversy as she suspensefully held her pen in the air before signing the declaration. #London #UniteForEurope pic.twitter.com/zdXuECOHlW- Sideshow Matt (@Sideshow_Matt) 25 mars 2017 What they are saying Joss Dennis was one of three coach loads of protesters who had travelled from Bristol in western England.

"We are here because there is this march against the European Union and especially, the euro currency", one of the protesters said.

"Yes, we have problems, yes there are difficulties, yes there will be crisis in the future, but we stand together and we move forward", Gentiloni said.

Thousands of European Union citizens gathered today (25 March) in Rome to celebrate but also deliver a wake-up call to their leaders to improve policies and address the rise of nationalism across Europe.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Brexit "a tragedy".

But restaurant owner Mario Amato, 49, said he was anxious about the future of the European Union.

Sixty years after its formation, Europe's decision makers met in the Italian capital to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the treaty that founded the original European Economic Community.

European Council chief Donald Tusk hammered the point home, asking: "Why should we lose our trust in the objective of unity today?"

"Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all", Tusk said, adding that "the unity of Europe is not a bureaucratic model".

As the countdown begins, there is a real chance that negotiations will break down and Britain will be forced out of the European Union without any deal in place.

"Individually, we would be sidelined by global dynamics", the leaders said in the declaration.

The celebration was attended by only 27 of the bloc's 28 leaders, with British Prime Minister Theresa May notably absent. "Because it wasn't our generation but our predecessors?", Juncker said.

The EU says "everything is ready" for Britain to begin its EU exit and officials in Brussels have already outlined a divorce bill for Britain of between 55 and 60 billion euros ($59 and $65 billion).

The ceremonial gathering in Rome began with an audience with Pope Francis who gave messages of solidarity in the Vatican, as reported by The Guardian.

  • Leroy Wright