updated 4/5/2009 12:38:38 PM ET 2009-04-05T16:38:38

The European Union said Sunday that it has joined forces with the United States to tackle a "severe and global" economic crisis.

After a meeting Sunday with President Barack Obama, leaders of the European Union's 27 nations said they and the U.S. "are determined to work hand in hand" to put in practice decisions they made at a Group of 20 summit to counter the economic downturn.

This comes after weeks of trans-Atlantic criticism as Europe and the U.S. sniped over how they plan to turn their economies around.

U.S. officials want Europe to spend more to stimulate the economy. Europe claims it is doing enough, and tougher financial rules are needed to solve some of the problems that caused the current crisis of confidence in the financial system.

But after Sunday's meeting in Prague, the bloc said these harsh words were behind them.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who led the talks, said the summit showed "a new level in EU-U.S. relations."

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the meeting focused on "what we can do globally" on common threats such as nuclear proliferation and climate change.

Barroso told reporters that Obama and the EU leaders identified three main areas where the United States and Europe need to show strong leadership: climate change, energy security and trade.

He said the EU's ties with the United States were "by far the most important economic relationship in the world," with $2 billion per day spent trading in goods and services.

The EU leaders said in their statement that they were "particularly pleased that global financial regulation and supervision will be strengthened" as a result of talks Thursday among leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers.

Rich and emerging nations pledged at the G-20 summit to fight economic flashpoints around the world with some $1.1 trillion funding for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. They will also try to improve global trade with new finance for traders hit by the credit crunch.

The EU said it was "ready to join forces" with the United States to resist protectionism and strengthen trans-Atlantic and international trade and investment.

The EU is particularly keen to restart work on a long-stalled World Trade Organization deal after negotiations broke down last year on U.S. and Indian unwillingness to break down some trade barriers.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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