Transport by water

Naiades 3 (2021-2027)

The European Commission has released the new Naiades action programme for the period 2021-2027. It builds upon the ‘Strategic Inland Waterway Transport agenda for Europe’ recommendations of the Naiades expert implementation group, initiated by INE and the European Green Deal. It sets out the lines for infrastructure, the fleet, digitalization and people working in the sector to boost decarbonization, resilience and modal shift. Modal policies remain essential to remove inefficiencies as long as it happens in close interplay with other sector policies. In the face of climate change, it is important to elaborate coherent measures at the level of the fleet, logistics, and waterway and port infrastructure and to accelerate deployment with flexible solutions able to adapt to changing conditions with the support of digital technology.

Greening the fleet and making it future-proof in financially challenging times requires a clear roadmap, a comprehensive policy package and the facilitation of testbeds to learn from, all embedded in EU energy policy and close cooperation between public and private stakeholders to boost innovation for fleet and infrastructure, provide legal certainty and a sustainable investment climate that reduces commercial risk. In the transition towards zero-emission, policy can make or break the greening business case .

What is NAIADES and why is it important?

  • It is the EU waterway transport policy aiming for a better use of inland shipping to relieve heavily congested transport corridors.
  • It is the EU action programme to develop waterway transport. The 1st Naiades programme ran from 2006 until 2013, the 2nd from 2014 until 2020. The 3rd has just been adopted and runs from 2021 until 2027.
  • Waterway transport can be supported through the funding and financing programmes Connecting Europe Facility, Horizon Europe, LIFE, the Innovation Fund, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the EU Structural and Investment Funds.

Implementing Naiades 3

INE expects the Commission, together with the Naiades expert implementation group and the new Platina 3 project, to elaborate and deepen the EU actions so we can develop effective tools to:

  • increase the quality of waterways across borders in synergy with other water sectors;
  • roll out the greening of the refueling infrastructure and fleet across corridors in synergy with other modes and renewable energy players;
  • avoid a modal silo approach for data sharing and automation but deploy a multi-modal digital transformation of which inland waterway transport is full part;
  • create a rewarding and lifelong learning working environment.

The Platina 3 project

The Commission has anticipated the publication of the new Naiades action programme with a dedicated Horizon2020 call. The resulting Platina 3 project gathers a strong group of waterway transport actors which will work with the Commission and all stakeholders on the

  • integration and digitalisation of waterway transport in view of modal shift and synchro-modality;
  • zero emission, automated & climate resilient fleet;
  • skilled workforce anticipating to zero-emission & automation;
  • smart & climate resilient waterway and port infrastructure with clean energy hubs.
  • INE advocates the continuity of Platina 3 after the project ends.

What is the Smart & Sustainable Mobility Strategy?

  • The new EU mobility strategy translates the European Green Deal into transport policy.
  • Another important pillar is digitalization, it interprets Digital Europe for mobility and outlines the directions for the digital transformation
  • With COVID-19, resilience is the third pillar to become prepared to whatever may come next and be able to rebound.

A new transport strategy

The combined challenges of climate neutrality, digital transformation and resilience require a readjustment of European Transport Policy. It is the perfect opportunity to match climate mitigation and climate adaptation, maximizing modal shift in a multi-functional environment in the most sustainable way. INE also recommends to look with more attention to industrial sectors in transition.
The European Green Deal will guide the agricultural, energy, chemical, steel and construction sector through a sustainable and circular transformation. The big volumes involved are well suited for inland shipping. Construction materials constitute the largest cargo flow in cities, building and demolition represent one third of EU waste generation. To enable seamless and sustainable transport for new economies, multimodality has to become the default option.



  • Revision of Urban Mobility Package with better use of inland waterways into cities
  • Proposal for e-Documents for inland crew & vessels


  • Revision of RIS directive
  • Revision of the combined transport directive


  • Automated mobility will be deployed at large scale
  • Zero-emission vessels will become ready for market
  • Transport by inland waterways & shortsea up by 25%


  • Transport by inland waterways & shortsea up by 50%

Towards a new urban mobility framework

Further integration of waterways with other modes should not only be pursued more strongly for international and inter-regional flows, but also in urban environments where most of the negative externalities are generated. Next to sustainable urban mobility, we need sustainable urban logistics and proactive spatial planning, to allow inland ports to help supplying industries and cities as multimodal hubs and enablers of green logistics.

European cities have been founded on waterways for smooth and safe transport of goods and people. Let waterways again take up their initial transport role in the many European cities they cross and integrate waterways more aptly in urban nodes for commuting, leisure and logistics.

Revision of the combined transport directive

INE proposes to map the location of captive industries with regard to navigable waterways and devise measures which are instrumental to modal shift and sustainable supply chains with waterways as backbones for economic development. We are working together with the inland waterway transport and port organisations on what is needed for the revision of the combined transport directive.