Fit-for-future waterways


Towards a new legal EU framework
While the EU institutions are still discussing the exact amount of the EU budget for 2021-2027, it has been agreed in the meantime that under the new Connecting Europe Facility, the co-financing rate for inland waterway studies and works will increase to up to 50%, and the maximum rate in cohesion countries will remain at 85%. This underlines the political importance of investing in inland waterway infrastructure in the coming years. 

At the same time, the Commission undertakes a review of the current guidelines for the trans-European network for transport (TEN-T) in order to revise the regulation by 2021. This revision aims to ensure cross-border infrastructure networks and the transport system are ready for the Green Deal objectives of carbon neutrality and climate resilience. The revision will also look at how to prepare the network for smart and connected mobility.

Fit-for-future waterways
While the focus in the past was mainly on increasing the capacity of the network, waterway authorities within INE increasingly strive to improve the overall quality and performance of the network. When planning and elaborating projects, waterway authorities increasingly take a life cycle and adaptive approach to regenerate existing infrastructure to future needs and combine this with smart solutions for preventive maintenance and high service levels. The aim is to create a reliable network with physical, digital and green energy refuelling infrastructure of high-quality which is ready for modal shift and innovative developments under a changing climate. INE wants to see this fully reflected in the objectives of the revised TEN-T guidelines.

An integrated approach
Waterway authorities work towards optimising the waterway network across borders into a seamless, safe and sustainable link in an all-in-one multimodal network, so customers can choose an optimal mobility and logistics mix. The focus goes beyond waterways and requires good connections to other modes for physical, digital and green energy infrastructure. But it doesn’t stop there. Waterway authorities provide space to entrepreneurship  and jobs on and along the water. Waterways play an important role for water management, natural habitats, energy generation, water supply and recreation. Working towards fit-for-future infrastructure requires integrated management of our waterways with strong links to EU policies for biodiversity, climate change adaptation, industrial and circular economy, energy and digitalisation. This demands more flexibility of EU programmes. The advantage is that we increase the EU added value, providing a better return on investment for our economy, environment and society.

Our concept for fit-for-future waterways


Achieving fit-for-future waterways

Puzzle AR 2019 Tr



Recommendations for TEN-T guidelines 

- Take a quality and future-oriented performance approach which is goal-based in line with the Green Deal, adaptive in accordance with evolving knowledge and integrates policy goals;
- Enhance synergies  & co-design between the building blocks of fit-for-future infrastructure for more EU added value;
- Unequivocally define the waterway core and comprehensive network to avoid the confusion which currently exists;
- Ensure interoperability for digital solutions to boost multimodality;
- Improved qualification and quantification of societal and ecosystem benefits of investing in waterways;
- Dovetail guidance, instruments and requirements for good navigation status, water framework directive, biodiversity and climate proofing, while fully recognising the added value of waterway transport to the European Green Deal in all policies.

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