Infrastructure policy


Connecting Europe Facility (2014-2020)
EU trans-European transport policy aims to remove infrastructure bottlenecks by supporting investments in building new transport infrastructure or rehabilitating and upgrading existing infrastructure. The Connecting Europe Facility for Transport co-finances projects with a total budget of 24.05 billion euro in 2014-2020. In the period 2014-2017, 6.5% has been allocated to inland waterways.

Public goods with EU added value
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for Transport aims to support investments in building interoperable transport infrastructure or rehabilitating and upgrading existing infrastructure. Grants remain key to finance the completion of the TEN-T network, because not all transport infrastructure projects can generate private return on investment, instead they provide important societal return. This is the case for waterways which allow to move people and freight in a low-carbon and congestion-free way if bottlenecks are removed. There are 5 billion euro infrastructure projects in the pipeline up to 2020 and more than 15 billion euro up to 2030 to complete the TEN-T core network of waterways, which will not materialise without grants due to the public nature of investment.

Good navigation status
The European Commission study on Good Navigation Status provided technical background on how to ensure efficient, reliable and safe navigation for users by ensuring minimum waterway parameter values and levels of service. The concept was introduced in the TEN-T regulation of 2013 and a Commission staff working document with further guidance will be published before end 2018. This is welcome to assist with the work in the Core Network Corridors. Further works needs to be done to improve the quality and coverage of TENtec data and GNS indicators incl. new technologies for data collection (echo sounders, AIS, …), to undertake future updates of GNS network assessments, implement GNS process at national level (monitoring, user involvement, gap analyses, project planning,…) and discuss the TEN-T minimum requirements for waterways, the
exemption process and criteria.

Corridor life cycle management
In spite of the increasingly limited transport infrastructure investment funds in EU and national budgets, providing optimal service levels for sustainable and congestion-free transport by inland waterways remains crucial. Whole lifecycle management and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure are a cost-efficient way to keep service levels high. The aim is to extend the life of existing infrastructure, reduce the need for radical and expensive interventions and significantly improve performance in order to increase reliability, availability, climate resilience and welcome new transport concepts, all important goals to reach good navigation status by 2030. This approach allows for a strategic, effective and efficient allocation of resources to waterway infrastructure corridors of the TEN-T network in close consultation with users. Durable and innovative solutions for renovation and regeneration across borders are also an important topic for further EU research.

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


Policy recommendations

Investment in waterways creates a strong societal return by achieving the EU energy, climate and environmental goals. Waterways are of public interest and not bankable. Investing in waterways creates sustainable jobs and growth in the EU. 

This requires, in close coordination with all industry stakeholders:

Connecting Europe Facility up to 2020 and in 2021-2027 to privilege sustainable infrastructure projects with a dedicated grants budget

European Commission to quantify the societal benefits of investing in waterways with inland waterway authorities

Predictable and reliable funding framework, so planning, budgeting and execution of projects can be guaranteed





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Infrastructure policy

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