The FINANCIAL — EU foreign ministers on November 3 agreed on a joint message to the next US president, calling for a partnership of equals on key challenges from the Middle East to the global finance crisis.
French Foreign Minister Kouchner, whose country holds the Europen Union presidency, said the 27-member bloc had put the seal on a six-page letter to the winner of the US election outlining how to update trans-Atlantic ties.
"We are the partners of the Americans and we will let the new president know this as soon as he is elected," Kouchner told a news conference following talks in southern France, on the eve of the election.
Kouchner said the European letter was being kept under wraps to be sent to either Democrat Barack Obama — overwhelmingly popular among European voters — or his Republican rival John McCain when the White House race is over.
But he said it called for increased cooperation on the Middle East, on Afghanistan and Pakistan, on relations with Russia, ties with China and other emerging powers, and for multilateral decision-making on key global issues.
"Both candidates have their eyes turned towards Europe and have shown their interest in seeing both sides of the Atlantic working together," Kouchner said, predicting a new era of multilateralism.
"The time is past when people asked what Europe was for. What we want is for our initiatives to be understood and shared."
"The European Union has become more resolute," he argued, referring to the bloc's role in negotiating a solution to the Russia-Georgia conflict in August and its leadership on the global financial crisis.
The French minister said it would have been "unthinkable" until recently for a united Europe to reach out to an incoming US administration "as friends but especially as partners, to say here is what we could do together."
"The world has changed, because we have realised that a great country, which will remain a great country, is not the only one concerned by the world's problems," he said.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said earlier that Europe wanted to work with Washington to shape the global agenda for the years to come.
"This isn't just about asking America to do things," he told reporters. "It's about Europe stepping up as well," whether on the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or the global financial crisis.
The EU's external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner also said relations with Washington should reflect Europe's new "leadership" in world affairs.
"We want to have an even stronger relationship with the United States, and for that reason I think it's important that we say what we think is important for us. I think it should be a more balanced relationship," she said.
EU foreign ministers head late Monday into an official dinner kicking off a two-day meeting of the new Mediterrean Union, which has been plagued with disagreements since it was launched with fanfare in July.
The 43-nation union brings together EU members with states from north Africa, the Balkans, Arab nations and Israel in a bid to foster cooperation in one of the world's most volatile regions.
But tensions have already flared surrounding the observer status granted to the Arab League, with Arab countries seeking a more active role in the face of Israeli opposition.
Ministers hope to reach agreement on the makeup and powers of a secretariat for the union, a decision that has sparked a tug-of-war pitting European cities against southern Mediterranean rivals.