On 24 June, the European Commission published the NAIADES III Action Plan for ‘boosting future-proof European inland waterway transport’. The Port of Rotterdam welcomes the Commission’s initiative and the subsequent flagships that address the need to shift more freight to inland waterways and to facilitate the transition towards zero-emission inland waterways transport. The Action Plan plays an important role in securing the competitive position of the sector on the long term.
The NAIADES III Action Plan is published at a crucial time, as inland waterway transport is currently coping with a stagnating share in freight transport. As a result of the energy transition, the composition of freight transport is evolving. It’s necessary to recognize that the market experiences a decrease in bulk fossils flows and an increase in the growth of the container market. As such, freight flows are gradually shifting from inland waterways to road transport. Through the implementation of the Action Plan, the Port is hopeful that the competitive position of inland shipping can be boosted, its market share can be preserved, and a modal backshift can be avoided.
Moreover, the Port supports the Commission’s proposal to establish a dedicated cooperation framework for inland waterway transport within the revision of the TEN-T Regulation (Flagship 1). This should enable Member States to better coordinate cross-border actions and projects. In order to realize the objectives as put forward by the Commission (i.e. increasing the capacity of inland waterways, addressing bottlenecks, upgrading the TEN-T network), the Port calls upon the Commission to integrate the objectives in future funding calls of Connecting Europe Facility to financially support projects that contribute to realizing these objectives.
What are the implications?
Furthermore, with regards to the Commission’s technical guidance concerning environmental and climate objectives when investing in transport infrastructure (Flagship 4), the Port would like to stress that the relative position of inland shipping should always be taken into account when providing technical guidance. For example, when drawing up ecological implications regarding the deepening of waterways, the Port believes the implications for the entire supply chain should be taken into account, as the deepening of waterways can relieve other parts of the network.