Cordons and police are seen in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, March 23, 2017. The EU-27 leaders will meet on Saturday in Rome for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. (Xinhua/Jin Yu)
by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Rome has tightened security measures, as the Italian capital is preparing for the major celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding treaty of the European Union (EU) on Saturday.
More than 30 EU leaders are expected to attend the ceremony in center of Rome, where the founding treaty was signed on March 25, 1957.
Police forces were on high alert, and their staff were increased to 5,000, while Italy's Civil Aviation Authority declared a full flight ban over Rome from 6 a.m. on Friday to 11 p.m. on Saturday.
At the same time, important venues in the capital would remain cordoned off, including parliament, government building, and presidential palace, while major tourist attractions would be closed.
A most restricted zone, namely the "Blue Area," was declared around the Capitoline Hill, where the celebrations will actually take place. It would be off-limits for all transport means and all citizens, but residents.
Some 40 checkpoints were set up at the main gates to the two zones, and about 100 additional surveillance cameras were installed across the capital, according to police.
The plan was imposed after an emergency meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Strategic Analysis Committee (CASA) was called on Thursday, also following London terror attack the previous day.
On request of Interior Ministry Marco Minniti, the CASA will meet in permanent session until after the EU summit.
On Saturday, the 27 leaders of EU member states and the representatives of EU institutions gather to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome 60 years ago, which brought West Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg as a common community, paving the way for the European Union.
The ceremony will be followed by a formal "Rome Declaration," and leaders are expected to outline Europe's future, especially after the forthcoming exit of Britain.
"As Europeans, we are aware of the full scope of the current changes, and we need new ideas and solutions to respond to today's challenges," Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Friday, after a meeting with EU heads of states and Catholic Pope Francis.
"We have to do this especially for our youth -- the EU's Millennials -- who are the first EU natives, and the best-educated generation of our common history," Gentiloni added.
Besides the anti-terror alert, security forces will have to oversee six demonstrations that were authorized to take place in the capital across the weekend.
Organized by both pro-EU and anti-EU groups, the rallies might draw up to 25,000 people overall, Ansa news agency reported.
Special attention would be paid to the anti-EU demonstrations for fear of possible infiltrations by radical, violent minorities, according to security sources.
Various side-events and debates were also planned to celebrate the date and to discuss EU's current major social and political challenges.
Among such initiatives, a meeting was held earlier on Friday with trade unions and business associations, Italy's Gentiloni, and EU representatives including European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker.
"At EU level, we are not discussing issues that really concern people in their daily life," Juncker said at the event. "This is why the gap between European policy-makers and common citizens is widening."
BRUSSELS, March 24 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) leaders will gather in Rome on Saturday for a special summit to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which launched the EU's predecessor, he European Economic Community (EEC).
Even as the bloc reflects on achievements and shared values, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker earlier said: "Rome must also be the start of a new chapter. There are important challenges ahead of us. A united Europe with 27 member states needs to shape its own destiny and carve out a vision for its own future." Full story