The region has acquired greater importance to the EU following the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the bloc. The new "Black Sea Synergy" initiative also targets Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, as well as Russia and Turkey. Greece will also be directly involved.
The European Union has ruled out contributing additional funds or setting up new institutions for the initiative.
However, the bloc's external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, today said enhanced contacts among the countries in the region will yield significant "added value" to their relationship with the EU. She said regional cooperation could encompass a wide range of issues.
"We [have] identified a huge number of tasks," she said. "Let me just mention a few of them. For instance, developing a sustainable and ecological oil dimension to cooperation in the region. Then, a comprehensive regional dialogue on energy security -- again the regional aspect, as you see. Then streamlining various transport cooperation activities."
Ferrero-Waldner said she hopes EU member states will endorse the initiative at their June summit in Brussels.