In a joint manifesto, the INE, EBU and ESO have called on the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member states to join them in partnership to double the overall share of inland waterway transport in the EU by 2020.
The manifesto points out that by 2020, 80% of EU citizens will live in congested urban areas and in densely populated areas of Europe, road transport will be at a standstill. Cities along waterways will have turned this advantage to their favour with inbound and outbound goods be shipped by smart, clean and modular barges along the existing waterways. Multimodal terminals at strategic points of the network will have been modernised and equipped with intelligent logistics systems. The traffic of major seaports will continue to grow in a sustainable way, thus securing the supplies of hundreds of millions of citizens in important urban centres such as Rhein-Ruhr, Paris, Budapest and Vienna without adding to congestion or pollution, since there is still free space on rivers and canals.
To overcome the current barriers to a better use of inland waterways, the manifesto spells out a set of priority measures including: mobilising investment to achieve a waterway network of high-quality corridors integrated via ports and terminals with other transport modalities; lifting all barriers for sustainable multi-modal logistics; and; setting up an innovation package for smart vessel design, green propulsion and smart logistics
Inland waterway transport has a huge potential which can substantially contribute to the future mobility in Europe and the manifesto argues that now is the ideal time to ensure the long-term and successful implementation of a European inland waterway transport policy within the overall EU transport strategy.