Infrastructure policy


Trans-European Networks
EU trans-European transport policy aims to remove the infrastructure bottlenecks that still hamper the seamless flow of people and goods across Member States. The Connecting Europe Facility co-finances projects with a total budget of €24.05 billion in 2014-2020. 6% of this budget covers projects improving waterway infrastructure. In 2007-2013, 10% of EU TEN-T funding was spent on waterway infrastructure projects.

Waterway projects in the pipeline
Waterway managers have prepared a pipeline of mature waterway infrastructure projects to remove important bottlenecks in the period 2017-2020 for which the total investment amounts to over 4 billion EUR. Some 15 billion EUR of investment is planned in the period 2021-2027. This covers works in all TEN-T corridors with major waterways including the Seine-Scheldt connection. Through the Danube FAIRway project, coordinated national action plans are elaborated for the Danube countries to help implement the “Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan”.

But budget falls short
Since 2014, there has not been a new call for non-cohesion infrastructure under the EU Connecting Europe Facility for Transport (CEF) and the bad news is that 97% of the budget is spent. Only 1 billion EUR remains in grants, not taking into account the money which will flow back from transport infrastructure projects that did not deliver. As a consequence, the execution up to 2020 of planned waterway projects is in danger. Current nationally earmarked budgets for these waterway infrastructure works may be allocated elsewhere and permits may expire. Blending public and private money is only a partial solution, since only a couple of projects can be configured this way. Waterways are mainly of public interest and not bankable to draw in private funds.


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:

1. Connecting Europe Facility up to 2020 and in 2021-2027 to privilege sustainable infrastructure projects with a dedicated grants budget
2. European Commission to quantify the societal benefits of investing in waterways with inland waterway managers
3. Predictable and reliable funding framework, so planning, budgeting and execution of projects can be guaranteed.





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Infrastructure policy

During the TEN-T days in Rotterdam, EU ministers agreed on the implementation of TEN-T and underlined its importance and the need for additional funding

The main goal of the FAIRway project is to implement the "Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan of the Danube and its navigable tributaries.

Ongoing study to define the Good Navigation Status concept together with member states, river commissions and users.

Since 1998 the Flemish Quaywall programme has brought over 100 companies to the waterways, avoiding almost 10 million truck movements.