Interview with Siim Kallas <

Friday 25 Nov 2011 / Gerelateerde tags: Policy EU 

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INE: Climate change, dwindling natural resources, increasing global competition and demographic changes bring our economy and society at a crossroads. What will this mean for transport and what are in your opinion the main chances and barriers for inland waterway transport?

Siim Kallas: We are indeed at a crossroads. Investment decisions in transport are inevitably long-term. We need to set a course now if we want to have a sustainable and efficient transport system in 2050. We have to create a truly Single Transport Area in the European Union by completing the internal market and removing remaining barriers. Transport should become a fully integrated and seamless system composed of safe and secure transport modes, high-quality services and infrastructure, promoting innovation and the competence of our industry and caring for its passengers, customers and employed professionals. We must continue to encourage more research and innovation and to support new technologies that are crucial also for competitiveness in the economy of tomorrow.

The demand for mobility will continue to grow in the foreseeable future, while infrastructure is aging and approaching capacity limits. Investments are needed to relieve congested nodes, eliminate bottlenecks and to implement multimodal solutions. We want to prioritise the genuine European core transport network which really connects our economic centres and productions sites and which does not stop at national borders. The on-going revision process of the TEN-T policy and guidelines addresses these issues in detail. Given the current economic and budgetary circumstances, we need clear ideas and decisions on new funding models for infrastructure measures. Inland waterway transport significantly contributes to our transport policy goals. However, inland waterway transport is still an underutilised mode of transport and therefore offers ample spare capacities, paradoxically even along such heavily congested transport routes as the Rhine-Main corridor, or the Danube and Rhone corridor.

INE: INE and its European sister organisations have published in “Setting the Course” their vision and targets for the development and innovation of inland waterway transport. What role do you see for inland waterway transport in a highly-innovative, green Single European Transport Area you plan to create and how do you see inland waterway transport in relation to other modes?

Siim Kallas: I am convinced that inland waterway transport can be a valuable partner in logistics and supply chains and make an environmental difference. I do not need to repeat all the assets of inland waterway transport as a cost and energy efficient, ecological and safe transport mode. It produces significantly lower external costs and consumes less energy than road and rail. It contributes less than 1 % to the greenhouse gas emissions of all transport modes while it accounts for about 5.6% of the overall land transport in the EU. In addition, inland waterway transport uses a network, which, by and large, already exists. About 300 inland ports and transhipment sites are located along our waterway network linking it to road and rail. Inland waterway transport is the transport mode which already experiences the gradual deployment of harmonised intelligent traffic and transport management systems across all Europe – River Information Services with very encouraging developments on information and infrastructure connections to other transport modes.

INE: How do you plan to support the development of inland waterway transport in the overall European transport policy?

Siim Kallas: It is clear that we need to ensure the long-term development and successful implementation of a European inland waterway transport policy beyond 2013, the end of the current NAIADES programme. My services are preparing a second progress report on NAIADES summarising the main achievements in the five priority areas up to now and we are currently working on a proposal for a continuation programme.

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