22 November 2004 00:01 [Source: ICB]
The European Commission is being urged to draw up an action plan for inland navigation in the EU, as part of a series of measures designed to promote inland waterways as a ‘safe, efficient, reliable and environmentally-friendly way to transport goods within Europe’.
A conference organised by the Dutch presidency on The Power of Inland Navigation, held in The Hague on 10-12 November, stressed the importance of inland navigation for the economic growth and social well-being of Europe and argued that it must be given a more prominent role in European traffic and transport policy.
According to Murco Mijnlieff, a spokesperson from the Dutch Ministry of Transportation, goods traffic around Europe is expected to grow between 20% and 80% in the next 20 to 30 years, partly fuelled by EU enlargement. ‘It is difficult to say [how much of this growth inland waterways will absorb], it depends on where the growth is – if much of the growth is in bulk goods, inland navigation can do a lot in that area.’ In the Netherlands, as much as 26% of chemical products are transported by inland navigation and even here there is considerable capacity for growth, Mijnlieff said.
To encourage inland navigation, conference delegates drew up a list of 19 measures directed not only at the Commission and Parliament, but also EU member states and trade and industry. They noted that the Commission’s action plan should include a timeframe for realising the various Trans-European Network waterways projects, while EU member states are being asked to make available ‘sufficient financial resources’ for the management and maintenance of the waterways, as well as for the removal of bottlenecks.
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