The European Union (EU) wants to be a "more equal partner" to the United States, said EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner on Friday.
She told reporters after the first day of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers that it is right time for the EU to raise its level of ambition in transatlantic relations.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who chaired Friday's meeting, said the EU needs to renew the transatlantic relationship in a changing world.
"We want to be fully involved, not just following their (Americans') lead," Kouchner told the same press conference.
France's Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Kouchner arrives for the Informal UE foreign ministers meeting(GYMNICH) in Avignon, southern France, September 5, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
He said the foreign ministers agreed to work together more with Washington.
Ferrero-Waldner said the EU countries have to be more clear and united in their positions in international issues and to be more effective in using their policies and instruments.
She highlighted the need to strengthen the EU's neighborhood, referring to relations with former Soviet republics. The Georgia crisis is a good example to illustrate the importance of the EU's neighborhood policy, she said.
Ferrero-Waldner said both the EU and the United States have to work with emerging countries, such as Brazil, China and India. But she ruled out cooperation with Russia, citing Moscow's self-assertiveness in the Georgia-Russia conflict.
She also said the EU should not rule out future contractual relationship with the United States, without giving any details.
The Georgia-Russia military conflict has caused fear in many EU countries, particularly Eastern European nations, which belonged to the former Soviet club.
The anxiety among European nations has naturally given rise to hopes for a closer transatlantic relationship.
Georgia launched a sudden attack in South Ossetia on Aug. 7 in an attempt to regain control of the breakaway region. Tbilisi's move triggered prompt reaction from Russia, whose troops drove Georgian forces out of the region and took parts of Georgian territory.
Russia last week recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway region of Abkhazia as independent states, a move that further angered the West. Source: Xinhua