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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 17:02 GMT
Berlin to host EU birthday party
Berlin's Brandenburg Gate
Berlin is seen as a symbolic venue for the EU party
Berliners are being invited to a party thrown by the EU in its own honour, and reportedly setting the bloc back about 1.7m euros (1m).

This month's party celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundations for the EU.

A highlight will be an all-night clubbing extravaganza, in which ravers can hop between 35 Berlin nightclubs for an EU-subsidised 12 euros (8).

There will also be free bratwurst and beer, and museums will open all night.

"We want to create a party atmosphere and awaken curiosity in Europe," said a German government official.

"It's a public celebration and we want to remind people of the big idea."

Free concert

The two-day party, on 24-25 March, is being held in Germany because the country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

Berlin - a formerly war-torn and divided city - is also seen as a symbolic venue in which to celebrate the modern unity of Europe.

The leaders of all 27 EU member states will descend on the German capital for an informal summit over the weekend, during which they will sign a "Berlin Declaration", reiterating the bloc's goals and achievements.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will attend a performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony by the Berlin Philharmonic, followed by a banquet and a firework display.

The general public, meanwhile, will be treated to a free open-air concert near the Brandenburg Gate by bands from all over Europe.

They include veteran English rocker Joe Cocker, Scottish folk band The Unusual Suspects, and Outlandish, a Danish-Moroccan trio, which has a wide Muslim fan base.

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