Europe complains of losing favour in US eyes

17th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

As Washington turns its sights away from its old European partners, the EU could reconnect with the United States in "triangular cooperation" with titans such as Brazil, China or Russia, the bloc's foreign policy chief said Friday.

The European Union's top diplomat Catherine Ashton told a summit of the 27-nation bloc that "Europe is no longer the main strategic preoccupation of foreign policy."

"The US is increasingly looking to new partners to address old and new problems," Ashton said as a summit turned to diplomatic issues Friday after addressing the trials faced by struggling euro-nations the previous day.

Europe, she said, needed to work out a new kind of partnership "fit for a new era" based on economics and global security aims.

"We can best exert our influence vis-a-vis the US by ensuring a unified, capable and self-confident EU," she said.

"When we are an efficient and reliable partner the US takes us seriously. Conversely, if we over-promise and under-deliver, if we prioritise process over substance or if we don't know what we want, the US will turn its attention elsewhere."

Ashton said the way forward was for the EU to continue to build relationships with other partners -- cooperate with Russia on security and energy, Africa, China and Japan on trade.

"We need to transcend the bilateral prism and see the connections among the strategic partners. This could also lead to triangular cooperation."

A summit last month between Brussels and Washington barely lasted two hours after a stinging last-minute cancellation of an EU-US summit in May, straining the relationship.

© 2010 AFP

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