European Union: Promoting Inland Waterway Transport In The EU

Last Updated: 29 August 2018
Article by Ekaterina Aksenova
Most Read Contributor in Italy, July 2019

This Article is the first of a series of articles concerning inland waterway transport (hereinafter "IWT") in the EU. This introductory article focuses on the importance of implementing and further developing inland waterways transport in the EU.

IWT, together with road and rail, is one of the three main modes of land transport.

In Europe there are more than 200 inland ports, with more than 37,000 kilometres of waterways1. Half of Europe's population lives close to the coast or to an inland waterway. An important number of European industrial centres can be reached by inland navigation. The Rhine-Danube network alone, with a length of 14 360 km, represents nearly half of the inland waterways of international importance.

The advantages of inland waterway transport are numerous. IWT is a safe mode of transport with low costs, a lot of spare capacity, no congestion, low noise levels and low energy consumption and a low carbon footprint. Barges and pushed barges can transport more and heavier goods per distance unit (tkm) than any other type of land transport and has a significant role to play in reducing road and rail traffic.

Figure 1 – Source ECA Special Report – Inland Waterway Transport in Europe

The cost of water transport is competitive and the unit cost decreases over long distances. As inland waterway transport is slower than road transport, it is commonly used for goods that do not require fast delivery times, such as metal ores, agricultural products, coke and refined petroleum products, coal and crude petroleum. In the last few years there has also been an increase in container transport, especially in the Rhine basin.

One of the long-term objectives of EU policy is to shift traffic from roads to more environmentally friendly transport modes, such as inland waterway transport, with the idea of helping to reduce pollution and increase transport safety. IWT is, in fact, a sustainable alternative to road, with a smaller carbon footprint and a significant reduction in air pollution. Some of Europe's largest seaports already use inland waterways to tackle increasing congestion and the lack of rail capacity (e.g. Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg).

The European Commission aims to create more favourable conditions for the further development of the IWT, so as to encourage more companies to use this transport mode. In 2006, the European Commission adopted the NAIADES programme. The implementation of NAIADES is supported by the implementation platform PLATINA.

In 2013, the NAIADES programme was updated with the adoption of NAIADES II2. This programme was aimed at promoting inland navigation through: (i) new infrastructure, including filling-in missing links, clearing important bottlenecks and port development; (ii) innovation, including the review of the River Information Services; (iii) market development; (iv) environmental quality, through the reduction of vessel emissions; (v) a skilled workforce and quality jobs; and (vi) integration of IWT into the multimodal logistic chain.

The NAIADES II programme runs until 2020 and is to be implemented by the European Commission, the Member States and the industry itself.

The NAIADES project is supported by the PLATINA project. The PLATINA project has received €8.5 million in funding from the European Commission. This project was implemented in order to provide technical and organizational assistance, by ensuring active participation of key industrial stakeholders, associations and Member States administrations. The PLATINA project is also working on further develop the River Information Services (RIS), which is a modern traffic management system enhancing electronic data transfer between water and shore through in-advance and real-time exchange of information.

The European Commission helps funding and financing IWT development through different programmes, such as the Connecting Europe Facility, Horizon 2020, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the Cohesion policy.

The European Court of Auditors (hereinafter "ECA") has carried out an analysis of the work done so far by the EU. A Special Report3 shows that the EU tried to implement certain strategies, aimed at eliminating infrastructure bottlenecks that should have been key for the development of inland navigation in Europe. The Report also shows that the goal of shifting traffic from roads and rail to inland waterway transport and improving navigability is yet to be achieved. ECA noted that, between 2001 and 2012, the modal share of inland waterway transport did not increase substantially, remaining at around 6%.

In order to address the difficulties encountered by the Commission in implementing IWT policy, the ECA concluded that, the European Commission and Member States should agree on specific and achievable objectives and precise milestones that should be aimed at eliminating bottlenecks on corridors within the framework of the Connecting Europe Facility. The efforts of the Commission should also take into consideration the TEN-T4 objective of completing the core network by 2030, the availability of funds at EU and Member State levels and the political and environmental considerations in relation to building new (or upgrading existing) inland waterway infrastructures.

The ECA recommends that the Member States should prioritize IWT projects which are on the TEN-T corridors, rivers or river segments that provide the greatest and most immediate benefits for improving inland waterway transport.

However, none of the projects set quantitative targets to be achieved. Today it appears that the only document that has set quantitative targets for inland waterway transport is the "Danube strategy". The Danube Strategy, which obviously has a limited geographical scope, envisages increasing the cargo transport on the river by 20% in 2020 compared to 2010. This goal should be pursued by putting in place both national actions and cross-border co-ordination procedures, in order to respond to the challenges and re-establish optimal and safe navigation conditions.

The work carried until now and that must be carried out in the following years, by both the EU and the Member States is extremely important for an environmentally friendly development of the transport sector in Europe. All the stakeholders should be interested and partake in the development of this transport mode.

In this article we hope we have provided the framework for EU policy on inland waterway transport. In subsequent articles we will look at a number of the legal issues that arise, in particular, concerning the particularities of river transport contracts and the litigation of river transport contracts.


1 See

2 COM (2013) 623 final of 10 September 2013, "Towards quality inland waterway transport Naiades II"

3 European Court of Auditors, Special Report, Inland Waterway Transport in Europe: no significant improvements in modal share and navigability conditions since 2001, Luxembourg, 2015

4 The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) is a European Commission policy directed towards the implementation and development of a Europe-wide network of roads, railway lines, inland waterways, maritime shipping routes, ports, airports and rail-road terminals. The 2013 TEN-T Guidelines were adopted in the form of a Regulation and therefore are binding for the Member States. In order to prioritize waterways within the TEN-T network, the new Connecting Europe Facility and TEN-T guidelines of 2013 established a core and a comprehensive network, which Member States have a legal obligation to complete by 2030 and by 2050 respectively. However, for inland waterways there is no difference between the core and the comprehensive network, which does not help with prioritization within the waterways.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions