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Poland: EU declaration renews the bloc's unity
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydto gestures after signing a declaration during an EU summit meeting at the Orazi and Curiazi Hall in the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome on Saturday, March 25, 2017. European Union leaders were gathering in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty and chart a way ahead following the decision of Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
ROME — The Latest on the European Union summit (all times local):
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo called the declaration signed yesterday by European Union leaders in Rome a "first step toward renewing the unity of the EU."
Szydlo spoke at a news conference in Rome after she and 26 other European leaders signed the document, which enshrines a pledge to give member nations more freedom to form partial alliances and set policy when unanimity is out of reach.
Szydlo had initially threatened not to endorse the declaration backed away but from that on the eve of the summit and signed it yesterday.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, told Poland's private TVN24 broadcaster that changes were made to the document to accommodate Poland and other countries in central Europe, which seek to maintain greater national sovereignty.
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Szydlo also expressed regret that the ceremonies yesterday took place "in the shadow" of Britain's decision to leave the bloc.
Denmark's prime minister says the European Union is a success and singled out one example: roaming costs.
Lars Loekke Rasmussen said in Rome that Europeans abroad can call home "or be streaming films at affordable prices because the EU has removed the roaming costs. Until then we were lacerated by roaming costs."
He added yesterday, "That is one concrete example that it works."
In February, the EU reached a deal on how much operators may charge each other for using their networks to provide roaming services, which should cut costs substantially. Until then, EU citizens had to pay hefty costs to use roaming facilities when visiting or working in other member states. It was long seen as an impediment to creating a seamless market among the member states.
The leaders of the European Union's 27 remaining countries have toasted Europe and its united people.
At a Quirinal Palace luncheon in Rome, Italian President Sergio Mattarella lifted his crystal wine glass and invited guests who had just finished an EU summit in Rome to join him in a toast to "our Europe, to the union of our peoples."
The 60th anniversary of the signing in Rome of EU's founding treaty comes days before Britain formally signals the beginning of its exit.
EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker used his own pen instead of a summit-supplied pen to sign a summit declaration committing the 27 countries to build the bloc's future through a united front.
Later, the European Commission president pulled the pen out of his jacket pocket and showed it off with a flourish, saying "I'm keeping it."
Several thousand people have demonstrated in Berlin in favor of European unity, and organizers have symbolically demolished a wall made from cardboard boxes at the spot where the city was once divided.
Demonstrators on yesterday marched from the Bebelplatz square at one end of the central Unter den Linden boulevard to the Brandenburg Gate, once a symbol of Germany's divisions and now of its unity.
They carried placards with slogans such as "Europe United in Solidarity" and "Happy Birthday EU."
Participants released balloons in the colors of the European Union's flag at the Brandenburg Gate. Organizers put the turnout at 6,000.
A few dozen Britons have marched in support of the European Union near a summit in Rome as they protested Britain's vote to leave the bloc.
Some 50 British citizens living in Italy joined the "March for Europe," one of several pro- and anti-EU rallies organized for yesterday.
The Britons expressed dismay at what they deemed Britain's mistake to leave the EU, with exit negotiations to be formally triggered next week.
Jackie Chamberlain, who lives in Rome, said she was "very ashamed for Britain." She said: "I think Britain is doing the most dreadful mistake to pull out of it."
Another Briton living in Rome, Annabelle Bedini, contended that Britain belongs spiritually, cultural, politically and economically in the European Union.
The European Commission's president has advised French voters to remember the key role their country plays, together with the European Union, when they cast ballots in next month's presidential election.
The populist, anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen is a strong contender.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was asked at an EU summit in Rome about Le Pen's antagonism toward the EU.
He said "the role of France, together with the EU, is a central role" and must remain so. He added: "I'd tell the French, don't forget to be France, which knows how to speak to the rest of the world." He added: "I'd tell the French, stay French."
The leaders of the 27 EU countries remaining after Britain's exit used the summit to try to appear united.
Thousands of Poles are rallying in Warsaw, waving European Union and Polish flags in a show of support for the union as leaders in Rome mark the 60th anniversary of its founding treaty.
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.
The government critics fear that a recent euroskeptic stance taken by the government could ultimately result in Poland leaving the EU. The Polish government denies that that is its aim.
Thousands of people began their demonstration by singing the European anthem, "Ode to Joy" followed by the Polish national anthem. They planned to march later to the Royal Castle in historic town center.
The head of the European Commission says the bloc's 60th birthday declaration sets the scene for a growing mood of optimism.
Jean-Claude Juncker said after the leaders of 27 EU nations met that their Rome declaration is a good beginning for a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the bloc after Britain's departure. He added: "The atmosphere is now such that we can approach this with confidence."
Juncker said: "What we achieved in the days before Rome, and in the last few hours here in Rome, conveys something of an incipient optimistic mood — because, contrary to what was assumed, there was no clash, no big dispute between several conceivable paths."
The Rome declaration enshrines the principle of a multi-speed EU.
European Union leaders have signed the Rome declaration which has enshrined the principle of a multi-speed bloc, where some nations can move ahead while others stay on the sidelines on specific issues.
The declaration signed by 27 nations said that "we will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction."
The EU has often done that in practice in the past, with only 19 nations in the eurozone and not all members participating in the Schengen zone of borderless travel.
European Council President Donald Tusk has said on the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding treaty that continued unity for the 27 nations remaining following the planned departure of Britain is the only way to ensure the bloc's survival.
Tusk told 27 EU leaders that "Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all" He spoke during a solemn session in Rome to mark the 1957 signing of the Treaty of Rome.
Tusk said that "only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe in relation to the rest of the world. Only a sovereign Europe guarantees independence for its nations, guarantees freedom for its citizens."
Italy's premier says that European Union leaders must earn the support of their half-billion citizens and fend off rising nationalism on the continent by creating jobs and eliminating social inequality.
Paolo Gentiloni opened a summit in Rome marking the signing of the EU's founding treaty 60 years ago in precisely the same ornate hall on Rome's Capitoline Hill.
He observed: "We are a little more crowded in this hall," referring to the 27 EU members remaining after Britain plans to depart the union. Italy was one of the six founding members in 1957.
Gentiloni chastised the EU for being late on handling the migrant crisis and responding to demands to create jobs.
He said: "We must restore the trust of our citizens" through stimulating growth, reducing poverty and social inequality.
The European Union's trade commissioner says that she sees "a Europe that stands up for liberty, democracy and the rule of law," but adds that "the European project has many challenges and shortcomings."
Cecilia Malmstrom, a Swede, said yesterday on her blog that people need to discuss what they want and on the 60th anniversary of the EU, "we want to celebrate with dialogue instead of conflict, to create a future that we in good conscience can hand over to future generations."
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary-general and Danish prime minister, tweeted that "greater unity must come from more flexibility toward member states' visions."
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says to have such a festive meeting like the 60th anniversary of the European Union founding treaty without British participation is "a very sad moment."
Juncker said that "Brexit, the exit of Britain, is a tragedy" for the 27 other nations meeting in Rome.
Britain voted last year to leave the bloc and is set to trigger the two years of divorce proceedings next Wednesday.
Germany's foreign minister says that his country must be careful not to be seen as lecturing smaller European Union countries, despite calls for a German leadership role.
Sigmar Gabriel wrote in an article for weekly Der Spiegel's online edition yesterday that "Europe is more than and above all often different from Germany." He added that smaller EU countries should view Germany, the bloc's most populous nation and its biggest economic power, as being interested in them rather than lecturing them.
Gabriel wrote: "We should counter temptations from Beijing, Moscow and Washington, which always want just to speak to us Germans, by noting that we are happy to play an important role and want to take responsibility — but that Europe is far bigger than Germany, and they can only have us together.
Residents of Rome are avoiding the city center as authorities brace for the possibility of violent protests during a European Union summit.
Some subway stops are closed, and buses have been rerouted away from the historic heart of the Italian capital hours before several planned marches.
Authorities fear anarchists might infiltrate anti-EU protests set for the afternoon.
Leaders from 27 EU nations gathered on the ancient Capitoline Hill on the 60th anniversary of the founding treaty of the EU, whose unity is now being sorely tested.
One march is organized by far-right opponents to the EU, while another is organized by far-left opponents.
Also scheduled is a pro-EU march, which could draw hundreds of Britons who live in EU countries and fear complications from Britain's exit from the union.
European Union leaders are gathering in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty and chart a way ahead following the decision of Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc.
On a day of ceremonies yesterday, the 27 leaders are set to approve a Rome declaration to commit to a united future and see how to deal with the myriad crises which has beset them over the past decade.
It looks like the blueprint will be adopted without any problems after both Poland and Greece lifted their objections on the eve of the summit.
Britain says that it will trigger the negotiations to leave the bloc on March 29, only days after the summit.