November 21 - A multi-billion-euro transport infrastructure project to link the inland waterways network of the Greater Paris region with that of the Benelux countries and beyond, appears to be back on track.

The future of the Seine Nord Europe Canal was called into question last year when potential private investors in the French state-backed project withdrew support.

But at a meeting last month, Siim Kallas, European Commission (EC) vice-president, Transport and EU Transport ministers signed a joint declaration affirming that there was provision for the Community to finance up to 40 percent of the Canal within the framework of the 2014-2020 budget, compared to only just over 6 percent under initial plans.

It follows an announcement by the Commission that the EU's transport infrastructure budget over this period will be more than triple that of the previous seven years (2007-2013).

Commission officials say the project has a high added-value rating being cross-border in scope and offering the sustainable solution of taking freight traffic off the roads and on to barges.

Construction, which focuses on building a 106 kilometre, 54 m wide canal to link the Seine and Scheldt rivers, could get underway in 2015 and take six years or more to complete.