EU leaders marked the 60th anniversary of its founding in Rome by signing a formal declaration of unity on Saturday as tens of thousands of anti-EU protesters gather outside. Mia Womersley reports.
Gathering in Rome to celebrate the 60th birthday of the European Union's founding treaty on Saturday (March 25), but without Britain. EU leaders from 27 member states gathering at the Campidoglio Palace. Determined to demonstrate that the bloc can survive the impending departure of the major power. Renewing their commitment to what EU chief Claude Junker called an 'undivided and indivisible union' and promising a 'vision for the next ten years'. Yet faced with tens of thousands of anti-EU protesters gathering beyond the tight police cordon. It was here the six founding states signed the Treaty of Rome on the 25th of March, 1957. Having joined in 1973, Britain will officially confirm its withdrawal from the bloc on Wednesday. Without this so-called looming Brexit, it might have been a modestly hopeful summit. All 28 EU economies are growing after a slump that has blighted the past decade. And recent border chaos has largely abated as refugees are, for now, being held in check. But Brexit has undermined the self-confidence of a Union that has helped bring peace and growing prosperity to the continent. And has encouraged eurosceptic nationalists challenging governments across the bloc. At the Vatican on Friday, Pope Francis told EU leaders that their Union had achieved much in 60 years... He warned though that Europe faced a "vacuum of values". And condemned anti-immigrant populism and extremism that he said posed a mortal threat to the bloc. The Rome Declaration signed by the 27 offers ringing phrases about peace and unity. "We have united for the better," the text concludes. "Europe is our common future." In it, they promise to listen to citizens. But locked away behind rings of armed police, the leaders may hear little of what these thousands of protesters have to say.