European leaders prepare for Saturday's Rome Summit and double-edged sword of birthday celebrations, 60 years after Treaty of Rome

 
Kenza Bryan
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An aerial view of Rome, 22 July 2003, ta
Theresa May was not invited to attend the summit of 27 EU leaders (Source: Getty)

A meeting of 27 EU leaders in Rome tomorrow will celebrate the 60 year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome which brought the European Economic Community into being.

The signing of the text, around which a day of festivities including a ‘family photo’ has been organised, will emphasise the token unity of the 27 member states bar Britain, who were not invited to attend.

Members will celebrate the historic success of a union which has more than quadrupled its members since 1957, and now makes up the largest borderless expanse of land in the world. It will take place in the historic Capitol Hill where the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, bringing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community into being.

The reinforced security arrangements, put in place after Wednesday’s terrorist attack at Westminster and in anticipation of 30,000 anti-European protesters in the centre of Rome, will serve as a reminder of the obstacles faced by the EU in defining a post-Brexit and post migration crisis EU.

The Rome Declaration will warn of “unprecedented challenges, both global and domestic: regional conflicts, terrorism, growing migratory pressures, protectionism and social and economic inequalities”.

Five options are currently being discussed for the EU’s future, ranging from ever-closer union to a multi-speed approach, which Poland opposes on the basis it may benefit Eurozone states more. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo only agreed to sign the draft Rome Declaration today, after threatening yesterday to refuse on the grounds it did not include issues prioritised by Poland, such as the strengthening of national parliaments.

It emerged today that Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, had warned US President Donald Trump of the risk of a “new war in the Balkans” if the EU collapses.

He also described Brexit, which Theresa May plans to trigger just four days after celebrations, as “a failure and a tragedy”.

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