The world community is in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss steps needed to address climate change after a 2009 summit in Denmark failed to produce a comprehensive agreement.
The European Union in a statement said it aimed to secure an agreement that embraces previous accords but takes the form of a "single, new legally binding instrument."
The EU said it would "consider" a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol provided that it paved the way to a wider global agreement.
Europe said it was pursuing an agenda at Cancun that embraces reductions in tropical deforestation, reforms and expansions to the carbon market, and greater transparency rules.
Decisions at Cancun, the European community said, should make it possible to start action on the ground right away, especially in developing countries.
Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, said the EU is ready to agree on a framework at Cancun, but feels other countries aren't ready to follow suit.
"Cancun must deliver progress on substance, and it can, if all parties show political will," she said in a statement.