From left, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and European Council President Donald Tusk wait for the start of a meeting in the Orazi and Curiazi Hall at the Palazzo dei Conservatori during an EU summit in Rome on Saturday, March 25, 2017. European Union leaders were gathering in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty and chart a way ahead following the decision of Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The Latest: Italy premier: EU must earn back citizens' trust

March 25, 2017 - 6:23 am

ROME (AP) — The Latest on the European Union summit (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

Italy's premier says that European Union leaders must earn the support of their half-billion citizens and fend off rising nationalism on the continent by creating jobs and eliminating social inequality.

Paolo Gentiloni opened a summit in Rome marking the signing of the EU's founding treaty 60 years ago in precisely the same ornate hall on Rome's Capitoline Hill.

He observed: "We are a little more crowded in this hall," referring to the 27 EU members remaining after Britain plans to depart the union. Italy was one of the six founding members in 1957.

Gentiloni chastised the EU for being late on handling the migrant crisis and responding to demands to create jobs.

He said: "We must restore the trust of our citizens" through stimulating growth, reducing poverty and social inequality.

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11:10 a.m.

The European Union's trade commissioner says that she sees "a Europe that stands up for liberty, democracy and the rule of law," but adds that "the European project has many challenges and shortcomings."

Cecilia Malmstrom, a Swede, said Saturday on her blog that people need to discuss what they want and on the 60th anniversary of the EU, "we want to celebrate with dialogue instead of conflict, to create a future that we in good conscience can hand over to future generations."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary-general and Danish prime minister, tweeted that "greater unity must come from more flexibility toward member states' visions."

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10:40 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says to have such a festive meeting like the 60th anniversary of the European Union founding treaty without British participation is "a very sad moment."

Juncker said that "Brexit, the exit of Britain, is a tragedy" for the 27 other nations meeting in Rome.

Britain voted last year to leave the bloc and is set to trigger the two years of divorce proceedings next Wednesday.

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10:20 a.m.

Germany's foreign minister says that his country must be careful not to be seen as lecturing smaller European Union countries, despite calls for a German leadership role.

Sigmar Gabriel wrote in an article for weekly Der Spiegel's online edition Saturday that "Europe is more than and above all often different from Germany." He added that smaller EU countries should view Germany, the bloc's most populous nation and its biggest economic power, as being interested in them rather than lecturing them.

Gabriel wrote: "We should counter temptations from Beijing, Moscow and Washington, which always want just to speak to us Germans, by noting that we are happy to play an important role and want to take responsibility — but that Europe is far bigger than Germany, and they can only have us together.

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10 a.m.

Residents of Rome are avoiding the city center as authorities brace for the possibility of violent protests during a European Union summit.

Some subway stops are closed, and buses have been rerouted away from the historic heart of the Italian capital hours before several planned marches.

Authorities fear anarchists might infiltrate anti-EU protests set for the afternoon.

Leaders from 27 EU nations gathered on the ancient Capitoline Hill on the 60th anniversary of the founding treaty of the EU, whose unity is now being sorely tested.

One march is organized by far-right opponents to the EU, while another is organized by far-left opponents.

Also scheduled is a pro-EU march, which could draw hundreds of Britons who live in EU countries and fear complications from Britain's exit from the union.

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9:25 a.m.

European Union leaders are gathering in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of their founding treaty and chart a way ahead following the decision of Britain to leave the 28-nation bloc.

On a day of ceremonies Saturday, the 27 leaders are set to approve a Rome declaration to commit to a united future and see how to deal with the myriad crises which has beset them over the past decade.

It looks like the blueprint will be adopted without any problems after both Poland and Greece lifted their objections on the eve of the summit.

Britain says that it will trigger the negotiations to leave the bloc on March 29, only days after the summit.

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