London [U.K.], Mar. 26 (ANI): European Union (EU) leaders renewed their vows on the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding treaties at a special summit in Rome designed to show unity despite Britain's looming split from the union.
Later, the 27 leaders, minus Britain, endorsed a declaration of intent for the next decade in the same Renaissance-era palace where six founding countries signed the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 1957.
The ceremonial gathering in Rome began with an audience with Pope Francis who gave messages of solidarity in the Vatican, as reported by The Guardian.
Between short videos documenting how the EU had salvaged Europe from a tragic history of bloodshed, Gentolini, along with European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, and the prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, spoke of the debt owed to the founding fathers, and the importance of cooperation.
"We do so to solemnly renew our vows and reaffirm our commitment to our undivided and indivisible union. But we do so not out of nostalgia. We do so because only by staying united can we rise to the challenges we can face together. Only by staying united can we pass on to future generations a more prosperous, a more social and a safer Europe," Juncker said.
On the margins of the summit, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was asked about Brexit.
"Some things are not for sale," she told reporters, saying that Britain would not be granted any concessions which undermined the free movement of goods, people, services and capital within the European single market.
"We are saying here very clearly that we want to go in a common direction," she added.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to trigger Article 50 of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty and begin the formal process of Britain leaving the bloc, exit the EU after 44 years of membership. (ANI)