Waterway infrastructure


The waterway infrastructure remains the backbone for transport over water. Important capacity bottlenecks in the network are being removed to facilitate smooth traffic. But modal shift requires not only increased capacity. To ensure a reliable network across borders, overall quality and performance become vital to reach a reliable and predictable navigation across borders. Quality requires a life cycle approach to avoid disruptions, extend the life of existing infrastructure and reduce the need for radical and expensive interventions. Future-oriented quality means that regeneration and renovation of the network allow to prepare the network for innovation and new developments. Quality also requires availability and reliability of infrastructure services combined with information to users and secure and safe access to the water.

The aim is to create a 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 revised TEN-T guidelines.

What are trans-European networks (TENs) and why are they important?

  • They aim to establish and develop EU cross-border networks in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy, in order to help develop the EU internal market, reinforce economic and social cohesion, and ultimately connect Europe.
  • The EU policy for trans-European for transport (TEN-T) aims at removing infrastructure bottlenecks by supporting investments in building new transport infrastructure or rehabilitating and upgrading the current one, including waterways, with 9 corridors as backbone.
  • The Commission prepares a revision of TEN-T regulation before the end of 2021.

Fit-for-future infrastructure

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. Cross-sectoral waterway investment achieving co-benefits demands more flexibility of EU programmes. The advantage is that we contribute to multiple goals of the EU Green Deal and increase the EU added value, providing a better return on investment for our economy, environment and society.

Waterway infrastructure projects co-funded by EU