The EU institutions approved in 2021 the new EU budget for 2021-2027. 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.

CEF general envelope: max. co-financing rates in %

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

  • CEF is the EU funding 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. 5.83% 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 digitalisation and decarbonisation of transport.
  • CEF2 is the successor programme for the period 2021-2027 with an overall budget of €33.71 billion, including for transport: €25.81 billion. Max. co-financing for waterways is up to 50% for the general envelope, up to 85% for the cohesion envelope..

Green taxonomy to become an enabling tool for sustainable transition

It is absolutely fundamental to direct investments towards sustainable projects and activities to achieve the EU’s climate goals and reach the Green Deal objectives. By classifying environmentally sustainable economic activities and providing criteria to what they should respond to, the EU taxonomy can enable the scale-up of sustainable investments. In the field of inland waterways, it is an opportunity to combine climate mitigation and adaptation, modal shift and environmental sustainability. INE has underlined two elements in the discussion on the climate delegated act. First, a level playing field should be ensured between rail and waterway infrastructure with regard to the scope of eligible activities. Secondly, the co-benefits realised by multi-functional waterway projects should be better recognised. Their integrated approach does not only seek to enable and increase sustainable waterway transport, but also to ensure sound and safe water management, to protect and restore nature and foster regional development.