Heads of state from across the EU will be in Rome for the ceremony, to be held in the same room where Treaty of Rome was signed to establish the EU in 1957.The memory of World War II -- the impetus for the EU -- was vivid at the EU's inception in 1957. But thanks to Europe's American-engineered peace and prosperity, a European war has become as likely as an outbreak of laissez-faire capitalism in France. The merger of European countries is no longer necessary to the future peace and prosperity of Europe, but the formalization of the EU will proceed because of pressure from the bureaucrats and politicians who stand to benefit from it.
The ceremony will be held amid a row about the views of prospective Italian EU commissioner Rocco Buttiglione.
Incoming President Jose Manuel Barroso has withdrawn his entire proposed team and has hinted he may make changes....
A squadron of F-16 fighters is expected to enforce a no-fly zone over the city centre for the duration of the ceremony....
On Thursday Mr Barroso said he is considering making a number of changes to the commission, despite controversy focussing on Mr Buttiglione.
The Italian, a devout Catholic, has been widely scorned by MEPs unhappy at his views on a range of issues, including homosexuality and the role of women in society....
Although the constitution will be signed in Rome on Friday, member nations still have to ratify the document individually before it comes into effect.
Some clauses within the constitution have caused divisions in EU states, notably plans for an EU president and a change in voting systems.
Member states can choose to hold a referendum in order to ratify the treaty or to put the issue to a parliamentary vote.
A number of countries have chosen to hold a public vote, with the first scheduled for Spain in February 2005.
I predict that the EU will dissolve -- in fact if not in law -- within 20 years. Moreover, I won't be surprised if the union is dissolved by intra-EU disputes that lead to a European "civil war". That would be the ultimate, tragic irony of Europe's misguided attempt to secure a lasting internecine peace through an arranged marriage of incompatible partners.