European Union leaders are meeting at Britain's Hampton Court Palace near London to consider policies that will help the grouping compete in the world economy and deal with challenges posed by globalization.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, wants leaders to reach consensus on how the block will deal with such issues as free trade.
He also hopes the one-day informal summit will help resolve the stalemate over the bloc's upcoming five-year budget for the period beginning in 2007. Budget talks collapsed in June after a dispute between Britain and France on EU spending.
Ahead of Thursday's meeting, Mr. Blair told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that Europe is facing competition from such emerging economies as China and India.
Meanwhile, the parliament asked EU countries to contribute more money for research, development, and to aid poor regions.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.