Polish PM joins European Union heads to sign Rome declaration

"It's a question of faith and will", says Pascal Rozier, a French woman who with her Scottish husband traveled from Brussels to Rome today to show support for the EU. Currently, that framework is determined by the EU, internally through the Single Market and a Customs Union, externally through the EU's Common Commercial Policy.

After years of burying their heads in the sand, European leaders have finally acknowledged they face an existential crisis.

The Rome Declaration that the leaders will sign proclaims that "Europe is our common future", according to a copy obtained by AFP.

It went on to pledge to bring the suddenly diminished the European Union - the result of Brexit - more tightly together: "Europe is our common future.We are determined to make the European Union stronger and more resilient, through even greater unity". "And in that sense, I'm glad that the wording of the Declaration of Rome includes the language about listening to people, about working with national governments and about striving for peace and prosperity, and opportunity in the time ahead".

In London, tens of thousands of pro-EU protesters took to London's streets Saturday, in defiance of the terror threat, to mark the bloc's 60th anniversary just days before Brexit begins.

The UK is nowhere to be found, as the unity of the 27 is secured by a clear divorce with the member state that chose to leave the bloc.

Poland, unhappy with the re-election of Donald Tusk as president of the Council, agreed not to spoil the party by vetoing the declaration.

The former Polish prime minister recalled how his hometown of Gdansk was destroyed by Hitler and Stalin, and how the Polish opposition movement against communism succeeded while clinging onto the idea of Europe.

A senior government source said: "The recommendation from Dexeu is that as a priority we need to secure rights for United Kingdom citizens in the EU".

The reference to "different paces and intensity" of integration was a mild mention of the proposal of a multi-speed European Union, which would entail different groups of countries willingly moving towards further integration at different paces within the bloc.

"I was born towards the end of World War Two and the European Union, not through force, has guaranteed trust", said Andrew Macmillan, a Scot who has lived in Italy since 1970.

"That really was a two-speed Europe", he said in a pointed dig at his domestic foes now ruling in Warsaw, who have tried to block a push by the western powers to deepen their integration. "Only a sovereign Europe guarantees independence for its nations, guarantees freedom for its citizens".

The leaders met with the words of Pope Francis ringing in their ears - on the eve of the summit, the pontiff warned that without a new vision, the crisis-ridden bloc "risks dying". "Only by staying united can we pass on to future generations a more prosperous, a more social and a safer Europe", Juncker said.

"Prove today that you are the leaders of Europe", he told heads of state and government.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker expressed confidence in the bloc's ability to overcome difficulties.

"2016 was a bad year for Europe and the world, we are going to make 2017 a year of hope, the year that people stand up and say "This is our Europe"," cried out one organizer as DJs played loud techno music.

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