CommonSpace reporter Michael Gray reports from Rome as European capitals unite in celebration of 60 years since Treaty of Rome
MOVEMENTS for European cooperation and against nationalism took to the streets across the continent on Saturday (25 March) with large marches taking place in Rome, Edinburgh, and London.
The future of the European project, concerns over Brexit, and the democratic right of Scotland to decide its own relationship with the continent were interlinking themes between the events, as EU leaders gathered to mark 60 years since the Treaty of Rome.
CommonSpace reporter Michael Gray reports from the Italian capital as European cities unite in celebration of 60 years since Treaty of Rome
Towards 10,000 campaigners from across Europe marched on the Coliseum in Rome following a rally of pro-EU politicians who called on the image and aims of the EU to be ‘reset’ in light of challenges to its values from Eurosceptics and nationalist administrations in the United States, Russia and Turkey.
President of the European movement Jo Leiden told the rally: “This European Union is a success story in the last 60 years. We celebrate a union that reunited Europe after the fall of the wall [between East and West Germany]. We celebrate a Europe that has guaranteed 70 years of peace & freedom in Europe.
“We are stronger than the nationalists and the populists. We are the Europe of the future,” Leinen told the rally.
— Michael Gray (@GrayInGlasgow) March 25, 2017
Marches in the Italian capital were split between EuroFederalists – who want deeper transnational cooperation and structures in the vein of a ‘United States of Europe’ – and the ‘Open Europe’ march of more left-wing groups who want a focus on economic and social reform.
While EU leaders signed a ‘Declaration of Rome’ in the absence of Brexit bound Tory Prime Minister Theresa May, the Scottish and English capitals witnessed pro-EU marches in opposition to her hard Brexit plans.
In London tens of thousands marched just days before May has signalled she will trigger Article 50 on the two year legal exit process. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron addressed the rally with hopes that a second referendum on the terms of Brexit could still take place – giving the public the opportunity to reverse the June 2016 result.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 25, 2017
SNP MPs Tommy Sheppard and Joanna Cherry addressed a rally outside the Scottish Parliament, where a vote will take place on Tuesday 28 March over whether to hold a fresh referendum on independence – triggered by the 62 per cent vote to remain in Scotland, as well as the refusal of the Tory government to consider any compromise proposals.
— Robert J Somynne (@RobertJSomynne) March 25, 2017
Hard rightwing rhetoric against foreigners has dominated Westminster plans for Brexit – with a fixation on reducing migration and the rights of international citizens living in the UK to access work and public services.
Plans to exit the single market have increased business concerns, while the pound sterling has slumped in value since June last year.
However, there remains a great deal of uncertainty over how the Tory-EU negotiations will pan out – with the European Commission, the European Council of 27 EU states, the split wings of the Tory Party, and those ratifying any deal at Westminster and the Brussels Parliament all vying for influence.
A letter triggering Article 50 will set the process of a UK exit from the EU in motion, with a response expected from the European Union within 48 hours (Friday 31 March). A smooth deal could revert the UK back to a ‘soft Brexit’ – while no deal would lead to the profound economic dislocation for the UK, dealing on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms of tariffs.
Picture: Young Democrats for EU
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