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European Union marks 60th anniversary in Rome as Brexit looms

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this handout picture released by the Vatican press office (Osservatore Romano) Pope Francis poses for a family picture in the Sistine Chapel after an audience with European Union leaders in Vatican, on March 24, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

European Union leaders will renew their vows on the 60th anniversary of the troubled bloc’s founding treaties Saturday at a special summit in Rome designed to show unity despite Britain’s looming divorce.

Meeting in the same Renaissance-era palace where six founding countries signed the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957, the 27 leaders minus Britain will endorse a declaration of intent for the next decade.

They will have the words of Pope Francis ringing in their ears, after he warned on the eve of the summit that the crisis-ridden bloc "risks dying" without a new vision.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s absence from the summit, four days before she launches the two-year Brexit process, and a row over the wording of the Rome declaration underscore the challenges the EU faces.

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Security is tight with snipers on rooftops, drones in the skies and 3,000 police officers on the streets as Italy takes no risks following an attack this week in London claimed by Daesh group.

The Rome Declaration that the leaders will sign proclaims that “Europe is our common future,” according to a copy obtained by AFP, after a series of crises that have shaken its foundations.

Mass migration, the Eurozone debt crisis, terrorism and the rise of populist parties have left a bloc formed from the ashes of World War II searching for new answers.

Around 30,000 protesters are expected to take part in four separate marches -- both pro- and anti-Europe -- throughout the day.

(Source: AFP)

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