September 11 - The European Union's inland waterways span more than 37,000 km and cross 20 EU nations. Each year it carries approximately 500 million tonnes of cargo, particularly through the densely populated areas of Germany, the Netherlands, France and
Earlier in September the European Commission adopted the NAIADES II action programme to expedite the development of the inland waterways network, in turn facilitating the flow of freight traffic throughout Europe.
NAIDES II aims to improve the inland waterway's infrastructure by better connecting it to other modes of transport and logistics centres. Bottlenecks emerge in the form of inadequately dimensioned locks and missing links, such as a connection between the Seine and the Scheldt rivers, hampering the sector's full development; theses are all key areas targeted by the new action plan.
NAIADES II also identifies that innovation in the inland waterway transportation sector is low compared to other modes of transport, contributed to by the longevity of equipment, market fragmentation, a lack of innovation culture and a weakening financial situation. The action plan maps out a way of driving innovation by all sector stakeholders to improve efficiencies, boost the waterway's green environmental credentials and to ensure the waterways remain an integral part of Europe's freight transport infrastructure.
Other key items identified by NAIADES II include market liberalisation to standardise rules such as working time regulations across the entire waterway network; creating a skilled workforce and delivering more quality jobs; and better integration of the system into the multimodal logistics chain.
By actioning these key areas the European Commission expects the inland waterway network to remain a reliable and well-connected network for Europe's freight traffic, as well as improving service through quality infrastructure, market transparency and improved competition.