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Less than 100 Million Euro needed to make the Danube navigable year round!

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Kathrin Obst

Kathrin Obst

The European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP), Inland Navigation Europe (INE), the European Barge Union (EBU), the European Skippers’ Organisation (ESO), Pro Danube International (PDI) and the Maritime Port of Constanţa urge riparian states to implement better fairway maintenance and ensure navigation reliability on the Danube.

At a meeting of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) in Vukovar on 28 and 29 October 2014, the Priority Area 1a – inland waterways presented a Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its Navigable Tributaries which concludes that additional investments of about 85 Mio EUR would be sufficient to reach recommended levels of service, i.e. 2.50 m fairway depth at low navigable water level along the majority of  Danube sections (2.0 m for the German section Straubing-Vilshofen). Additional annual operational costs would amount to about 8 Mio EUR. Compared to the magnitude of many other transport infrastructure projects, this is a rather modest sum. The European Commission has also signaled its willingness to offer support through EU co-funding.

The undersigning organisations therefore urge the Danube riparian states to endorse the master plan and to ensure its swift implementation!

The current lack of fairway maintenance on the Danube resulting in unreliable navigation is a pressing issue for the inland waterway sector and the industry using it. The failure of some countries to honour their commitment to maintain the Danube threatens the safe and cost-efficient navigability of the river with disastrous consequences for the sector and affected industry. For example, a push-boat with four barges costs its owner about EUR 3300 a day in fixed costs. This money is lost each day the boat cannot operate due to low water levels. More importantly, in the medium term, unreliable infrastructure conditions deter potential customers from transporting their goods by inland waterway in the first place.

The new master plan identifies critical maintenance locations which currently limit the navigability of the Danube and analyses the underlying issues and the financial needs required to resolve them. The majority of investments are needed for dredging equipment, fairway marking and riverbed surveying. Investments are to be carried out in full compliance with EU environmental legislation, thus ensuring respect for biodiversity and integrated water management.

The provision of quality infrastructure and legal certainty by the public sector will kick-start private investment in innovative and cost-effective services with positive effects for economic development in Europe. The competitive edge of some of Europe’s key industries (steel, agro, oil & minerals, aggregates) on the global market heavily depends on cost-effective inbound and outbound shipments of raw materials by inland waterways.

Undersigning organisations:

The European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP) brings together more than 200 inland ports and port authorities in 17 countries of the European Union, Switzerland and Ukraine. Since 1994 EFIP has been the voice of the inland ports in Europe. EFIP highlights and promotes the role of inland ports.

Inland Navigation Europe (INE) is the European platform of national & regional waterway managers and promotion bureaux, established in 2000 with the support of the European Commission. INE sees major opportunities to contribute to long-term strategies for sustainable transportation by moving more goods by water in EU regions and cities with accessible and navigable rivers and canals. INE is a neutral platform without commercial interests.

The European Barge Union (EBU) represents the majority of the inland navigation industry in Europe. Its members are the national associations of barge owners and barge operators of meanwhile 9 leading European inland navigation countries. EBU’s main objective is to represent the interests of the inland shipping industry at a European and international level and to contribute to the development of a sustainable and efficient European transport system.

European Skippers’ Organisation (ESO) is the voice of the European private inland shipping entrepreneurs in Belgium, Germany, France, Poland and The Netherlands since 1975.

Pro Danube International (PDI) acts as network of private businesses vis-à-vis policy makers, media and general public to promote better infrastructure and services which result in a more intensive use of the environmentally friendly inland waterway. Pro Danube International defines and carries out policy actions to achieve this goal.

The National Company ”Maritime Ports Administration” SA Constanţa (MPA SA Constanţa) is a joint stock company subordinated to the Ministry of Transport, being assigned to develop activities of national public interest in its capacity of port administration. MPA SA Constanţa fulfils the port authority function for Constanţa, Midia, Mangalia maritime ports and the Tomis marina.

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