It is a case of back to where it all began for European leaders as they get ready for the signing ceremony of the EU constitution. Rome’s imposing Campidoglio halls was the setting in 1957 when six of their predecessors signed the first treaty which brought the European Economic Community into being.
Friday’s event will be on a far grander scale not least because of the numbers involved. The 25 present-day EU members will be joined by other state’s with pressing ambitions to join – Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia. As the finishing touches are put to the venue, those who will be putting pen to paper have been arriving in the Italian capital for preliminary ceremonies. Romano Prodi has met with Pope John Paul the Second in the Vatican as part of his list of final duties as European Commission president. Security is also much tighter than it was almost 50 years ago. Police have thrown a ring of steel around the Campidoglio in response to the heightened risk of terrorist attack.