Many of you may have noticed the already heavy security presence in Rome has become even heavier in certain parts of the city. In case you’ve not heard, this is because on March 25 Europe “celebrates” the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the treaty that gave life to what we know today as the European Union.
The Guardian on March 8 reported that opening remarks on the day will include the following:
We, the representatives of 27 member states of the European Union, take pride in the achievements of the EU. The construction of European unity is a bold, far-sighted endeavour. Sixty years ago, recovering from the tragedy of two world wars, we decided to bond together and rebuild our continent from its ashes”.
Yet, “celebrate” is a relative term this time around: while it is a most momentous occasion, one lived in peace and reverie 10 years ago, it also stands to risk much more dissention and protest than ever before.
The Guardian also reports that Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, has not been invited to the celebrations. She will attend a European Council meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 23 in Brussels but return to the UK before the member states discuss the future of the Union on Friday and celebrate its anniversary, in Rome, on Saturday. This should come as no surprise especially since we also learn from today’s news that Theresa May plans on triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the article which allows for Brexit, on March 29, just days following this momentous anniversary.
Rome’s events will be attended by an estimated 30 Heads of State and will count several marches through the city, some in favor, others against a United Europe (see map of marches). To adequately accommodate and monitor the activity, city officials have devised two distinct areas, one called the Green Zone and one the Blue Zone.
While the Green Zone (via 4 Novembre, largo Magnanapoli, via Nazionale, piazza della Repubblica, via del Corso and via del Tritone) will continue to allow for pedestrian and some vehicular traffic, there will be numerous police blocks where people and belongings will be randomly checked. No protest or celebratory marches will be allowed in the Green Zone.
The Blue Zone (honouring the blue of the European flag) will cover all of Piazza Venezia, Piazza dell’Ara Coeli, via Petroselli to via delle Tre Pile and the Imperial Forum, including Piazza Madonna di Loreto.
This entire area is becoming more and more monitored already this week and will have heavy military and police presence from the wee hours of March 24, closing entirely to vehicular and pedestrian traffic from midnight, that night. All 21 entry points will be closed and heavily monitored.
As of this week already, we encourage students to be alert and aware of your whereabouts and comportment everywhere in the city. There will be stricter controls in airports and train stations and some Metro stops may be closed towards the end of the week. We will continue to update you on new measures, as they are announced. Please remember that Italian authorities retain the right to search and seizure at will.
Rome, historically, has been a city of marches and treaties, a city of triple diplomatic presence, of Mediterranean crossroads, of contrasts and peaceful manifestations. It has, in recent years, hosted two Holy Years; two Papal elections and one Papal abdication; numerous large, outdoor concerts; and several joint visits of Heads of State in honor of the G8, World Food Day and other momentous occasions. March 25 promises to be another such day in modern history. For those of you who will be in Rome, we encourage you to stay informed and follow the event planning on the official site of March for Europe.