LONDON: Tens of thousands of pro-EU protesters took to London's streets today, in defiance of the terror threat, to mark the bloc's 60th anniversary just days before Brexit begins.
Organisers said around 80,000 people joined the march calling for Britain to stay in the European Union, even as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to start the withdrawal process on Wednesday.
A sea of blue EU flags stretched down Piccadilly and past Trafalgar Square, interspersed by signs saying "I am European" and "I'm 15 - I want my future back!"
The crowd fell silent as it filed into Parliament Square, the scene of terror this week when a homegrown killer drove a car through crowds of people before crashing into a fence and stabbing a policeman. "Terrorism won't divide us - Brexit will," said one banner, while another said: "Stop sleepwalking, stop this madness."
Police said that "an appropriate policing plan is in place" but an AFP reporter said security was discreet.
The anniversary of the EU's founding treaty was marked by a special summit in Rome, where at least 10,000 people also marched in support of the bloc.
"I was a girl during the war and this grand European movement has become my political ideal," Catherine Chastenet, 74, a marcher from Paris, told AFP in Rome.
Around 4,000 people also gathered in Berlin, organisers said, holding up banners saying "More Europe" and the "EU is not dead" - reflecting fears that Brexit may cause irreparable harm to the 27-nation bloc.
"2016 was a terrible year for Europe and the world, we are going to make 2017 a year of hope, the year that people stand up and say 'This is our Europe'," cried out one organiser as DJs played loud techno music.
Rallies were also held across Poland, one of the EU's newest and most enthusiastic members, where supporters sang the "Ode to Joy" European anthem as they waved Polish and EU flags.