LEADERS of the 27 European Union nations that will remain post-Brexit have met in Rome to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the bloc’s founding treaty.
Six countries – France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – signed what was to become the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957.
The leaders assembled in the Piazza del Campidoglio, where the EU was founded, and signed a new declaration which stresses the value of maintaining the union.
One extract reads: “We, the leaders of 27 member states and of EU institutions, take pride in the achievements of the European Union: the construction of European unity is a bold, far-sighted endeavour.”
“Sixty years ago, recovering from the tragedy of two world wars, we decided to bond together and rebuild our continent from its ashes.
“We have built a unique union with common institutions and strong values, a community of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, a major economic power with unparalleled levels of social protection and welfare.
“European unity started as the dream of a few, it became the hope of the many. Then Europe became one again. Today, we are united and stronger: hundreds of millions of people across Europe benefit from living in an enlarged union that has overcome the old divides.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May was the only EU leader not invited to the informal summit.
Indeed, the UK was hardly mentioned at all, although in his address Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that the 2008 economic crisis “triggered in part of public opinion, unfortunately the majority of public opinion in the United Kingdom, it triggered a crisis of rejection. It brought forward the closed nationalism that we thought has been closed down in the archives.”
May is expected to write to President of the European Council Donald Tusk this coming Wednesday to formally trigger the two-year process that will see the UK exit the EU.