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EU Leaders, Without Britain, Sign Rome Pledge To Create 'Two-Speed' Europe


European Council President Donald Tusk (right) delivers a speech next to (from left) President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and Maltese Prime Minister Jospeh Muscat during a special summit of EU leaders on March 25 at Rome's Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill).

With Britain poised to start procedures to leave the European Union, leaders from the 27 remaining EU countries have met in Rome to renew their vows for continued unity amid a series of disputes that are testing their ties.

The summit, marking the 60th anniversary of their founding Rome Treaty, culminated with the signing of a new Rome Declaration about the future of the EU on March 25.

It says, "We will act together, at different paces and intensity where necessary, while moving in the same direction."

The declaration recognizes that complete unity among all EU member on all issues is unworkable.

Signed by all EU members except Britain, it is a pledge by EU states to work toward creating a so-called "two-speed" Europe.

Supporters of the "two-speed" policy say it will give member states more freedom to form partial alliances and set policies when unanimity is unattainable.

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said he would "rather have a two-speed Europe than a dead-end and no speed."

"When a country says 'I don't want to,' I can say, 'Well, too bad. Don't block me. Let me get on with it with others'," Bettel said.

The signing of the Rome Declaration comes four days before Britain’s prime minister has vowed to formally start the process for Britain to quit the EU.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters