High security in Rome for EU summit

Rome braces for potentially violent protests as EU leaders arrive in capital.

Security is tight in Rome in the days leading up to the extraordinary European Council summit on 25 March when European Union heads of state or government will converge to commemorate 60 years since the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano said that Italy does “not have the possibility of lowering our guard", following the London terror attack on 22 March in which four people died and dozens were injured outside parliament buildings at Westminster.

Rome security chiefs are bracing for potentially violent demonstrations, principally from the leftwing, anti-EU Piattaforma Sociale Eurostop which is at risk of infiltration by militant activists, according to police.

There will be numerous checkpoints in place around Rome, along with 100 new surveillance cameras, and security will be particularly tight in areas around key government buildings which will be off-limits to demonstrators.

Treaty of Rome, 25 March 1957
Treaty of Rome, 25 March 1957

There are six marches, both anti- and pro-EU, scheduled on 25 March, including the March for Europe rally organised by British in Italy (BiI) which is demanding that Britons retain their rights in Italy after Brexit.

Security chiefs have placed the demonstrations as far apart as possible, in terms of location and time, in a bid to avoid potential clashes.

Police are conducting strict controls on air, sea, road and rail routes leading to Rome, and have banned demonstrators from wearing motorcycle helmets or any clothing that conceals identity, as well prohibiting the use of any type of firework or “explosive”.

Pope Francis will meet the EU leaders at the Vatican on 24 March, ahead of the Rome summit. The capital's mayor Virginia Raggi, who is on a skiing break to de-stress, on medical advice, is expected to return to Rome in time for the EU commemoration events on 25 March.

For full details of Rome's off-limit areas and traffic diversions see Muoversi a Roma website.