Transport ministers pledge to implement Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its Tributaries – Sector asks for swift action
During a meeting in the margins of the EU Transport Council, Ministers of the Danube Riparian States yesterday endorsed the Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its Navigable Tributaries and pledged to implement it as soon as possible. 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 Ports Administration Constanţa welcome this commitment and urge for its swift implementation.
The current lack of fairway maintenance on the Danube is a pressing issue for the inland waterway sector and the industry using it. The failure to maintain the Danube and its navigable tributaries threatens the safe and cost-efficient navigability of the river with disastrous consequences for the barge and port sector and affected client industries. Moreover, unreliable infrastructure conditions deter potential customers from transporting their goods by inland waterway in the first place. Providing quality infrastructure and legal certainty will kick-start private investment in innovative and cost-effective services with positive effects for economic development in Europe.
The Master Plan was developed in the framework of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). It 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.
Ministers agreed to establish national roadmaps which identify individual actions, responsibilities, funding resources and intermediate milestones for the implementation of these measures and to communicate these roadmaps by 30 June 2015 to the relevant coordinating bodies. They further confirmed their intention to allocate the necessary national budgets as referred to in the Master Plan and stressed the importance of making use of EU co-financing opportunities.
The Conclusions were signed by Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Moldova, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia and Ukraine. The undersigning associations regret that Hungary and Serbia did not yet sign the Conclusions, but welcome the positive attitude towards the activity expressed by both countries.
The Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its Navigable Tributaries was developed in the framework of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). It 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 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 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 as multimodal hubs.
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 as well as projects 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 administrative function for Constanţa, Midia, Mangalia maritime ports and the Tomis marina.