DOC - Europa

Brussels, 10 September 2013
Making better use of Europe's waterways
The European Commission today announced new measures1 to get more freight onto
Europe's rivers and canals. Barges are amongst the most climate-friendly and energy
efficient forms of transport but currently they only carry about 6% of European cargo each
year. The new proposals intend to realise the unused potential of Europe's 37,000 km of
inland waterways. They will enable freight to move more easily and lead to further
greening of the sector, as well as encouraging innovation and improving job opportunities.
European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas responsible for Transport said,
"We already send 500 million tonnes of freight along our rivers and canals each year.
That's the equivalent of 25 million trucks. But it's not enough. We need to help the
waterway transport industry develop over the longer term into a high quality sector. We
need to remove the bottlenecks holding it back, and to invest in the skills of its
The Commission is proposing actions in the following areas:
Removing bottlenecks
Significant bottlenecks in the form of inadequately dimensioned locks, bridges or fairways
and missing links such as the connection between the Seine and the Scheldt river systems
are hampering the sector’s full development potential. The Commission is proposing to
improve transport of waterborne freight by upgrading locks, bridges and navigation
channels. The new Connecting Europe Facility and TEN-T guidelines give priority to new
funding opportunities for inland waterways – inland waterways are moreover an important
component of six out of nine TEN-T core network corridors.
Greening and innovation
Compared to other land-based modes of transport, inland waterway transport is energyefficient, safe, almost congestion-free and silent. The Commission will propose measures
including new standards for engines to encourage investment in low emission technologies
as well as support for research and innovation.
NAIADES II. Towards quality inland waterway transport. In Greek mythology, the
Naiades were water nymphs.
Better connections to other forms of transport
Priority will be given to improving links between inland waterways, road and rail – with
particular attention paid to connections at sea and river ports. Based on its ongoing review
of River Information Services, the Commission will make proposals to improve cargo
handling facilities and reduce paperwork.
Investing in a skilled workforce
The waterways sector relies on a skilled workforce. The new proposals are expected to
bring broader recognition of qualifications and careers, to improve labour access, and
About 37 000 kilometres of inland waterways flow through 20 of the EU Member States,
transporting around 500 million tons of cargo every year, in particular in the densely
populated and congested areas. The intertwined Rhine, Scheldt and Meuse river systems
are connected to the Seine and Danube rivers. However some major bottlenecks prevent
the European river systems from taking full part in the European transport area.
After the general slowdown of the EU economy since 2008, overcapacity in certain market
segments, the continued fragmentation of market players and the aging fleet have led to a
worsening of the economic and sustainability prospects for inland navigation. NAIADES II
responds with the work towards a stable long term framework for investments and
innovation in quality inland navigation and with measures with short to medium term
effects, such as a review of costly technical requirements. Under NAIADES II, financing
from EU, national and from the sector needs to be mobilised to support the necessary
investments. Access to finance is particularly important in this respect.
For more information:
Follow Vice-President Kallas on Twitter
Contacts :
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)