EU Infrastructure policy


More EU budget for transport

What are the trans-European networks (TENs) and why are they important

  • They aim to establish and develop EU cross-border networks in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy, in order to help develop the EU internal market, reinforce economic and social cohesion, and ultimately connect Europe.
  • The EU trans-European policy for transport (TEN-T) aims at removing infrastructure bottlenecks by supporting investments in building new transport infrastructure or rehabilitating and upgrading the existing one, including waterways, with as backbone 9 corridors.

With a transport coalition of over 40 transport organisations, authorities, cities, industries, including INE, we campaigned for a higher transport budget. In May, the European Commission proposed a new framework for the Connecting Europe Facility (2021-2027) and a budget without notable increase. We continue to make the case towards the European Parliament and Council to increase the budget. Furthermore, it is very important that the CEF budget for projects in cohesion countries is not reduced. Inland waterways receive more funding in CEF than via the Cohesion Fund. Finally, the first good news is that European Parliament insisted on up to 50% co-financing rate for inland waterways.

What is the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and why is it important

  • CEF is the EU investment instrument to achieve trans-European networks.
  • CEF Transport will have co-financed projects with a total budget of 24.05 billion euro in 2014-2020. 7% has been allocated to inland waterways in 2014-2018.
  • CEF also enables investment in the implementation of new technologies and innovation. And it supports synergies between transport, telecommunications and energy, which is relevant for digitalization and decarbonization of transport.

From capacity upgrades to a quality infrastructure
A higher co-financing rate for trans-European waterways will be of strong support to create quality infrastructure network by 2030. Next to capacity upgrades, waterway authorities work towards a reliable network with continuity of navigation and high service levels, into addition to recurrent maintenance. When INE coined the term ‘good navigation status’ in 2012, the objective was to put the users at the centre with fit-for-future quality infrastructure. Not only the quantity (capacity upgrades) is important, the quality and service of the infrastructure should be at the core of the debate with attention for a life-cycle approach and regeneration. For INE, this is a crucial element when revising the EU guidelines for the trans-European networks for Transport.

A changing climate
Another important reason to focus on quality, is climate change which will affect waterways, their surrounding communities and industries. Waterway authorities work towards climate resilient waterway infrastructure which requires an integrated approach with a long-term perspective. As waterway authorities, we have to be able to work at the crossroads of transport, water management, spatial and regional planning, recreation, energy and nature. This demands particular flexibility of EU programmes. The advantage is that we meet several EU goals, so it will provide the right return on investment.



Status of EU investment in inland waterways 2014-2017
Pipeline of inland waterway investment plans


Policy recommendations


Use the revision of the TEN-T guidelines to redefine quality infrastructure covering capacity and performance upgrades  with focus on life cycle management to meet users requirements for seamless navigation and to adapt to a changing climate

- Increase the budget of the future Connecting Europe Facility
- No reduction of the Cohesion envelope in the future Connecting Europe Facility
- Quantify the societal benefits of investing in waterways with inland waterway managers

Provide a long-term predictable and reliable funding framework, so planning, budgeting and execution of complex projects can be guaranteed





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Infrastructure policy

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EU FAIRway project shows rehabilitating waterways at corridor level pays off

Working with nature

08 Jan 2018

Nature and transport benefit from Inland waterway projects which aim to improve navigability, connect rivers and renature river banks