The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has said that the European Union will come to play a more important role in world affairs despite its divisions over Iraq.
Schroeder called for a UN monopoly on the use of force
Speaking to the German parliament, he said the EU must speak with one voice in the future, and gave details of a new Franco-German proposal for a European defence and security policy.
He said the European Union must have its own military capability - though it ought not to be in rivalry with Nato.
At the same time, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has called for core groups of EU countries to press ahead with integration if EU-wide agreement cannot be reached.
There's an old ground rule in the EU: No-one has to want to do things, but those who do want to must be able to
German foreign minister
"Europeans must agree on more common ground within the EU treaties," Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was quoted as saying by the business daily Handelsblatt.
"If that doesn't work, then - if necessary - a group of countries should go ahead as they did with the Schengen Accord, outside the treaties."
He added: "There's an old ground rule in the EU: No-one has to want to do things, but those who do want to must be able to."
Common foreign policy
The BBC's Ray Furlong in Berlin says the German vision is one of a stronger Europe in the face of current US dominance.
He said that more common ground had to be found, especially with countries closer to the US position on Iraq.
"The degree of cooperation between [Germany and France] countries is
one of the few welcome developments in the current
situation," he said.
"But it is equally clear that,
without close cooperation with Britain and the other
members, we will be unable to bear the international
responsibility that is rightly expected of us."
Mr Schroeder said the UN must have a monopoly on the use of force and that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could only be dealt with multilaterally.
Then, he outlined proposals he has made with President Jacques Chirac of France for an enhanced EU defence and security policy.
These include the prospect of common military capabilities, such as European units implementing UN peacekeeping operations instead of national armies, and closer co-operation in planning structures and the arms industry.
On foreign affairs, EU ministers should decide on many joint initiatives by qualified majority voting, he said - a shift away from national policy-making.