Experts representing European institutions and IWT sector gathered last week in Hanse-Office in Brussels to discuss how to enhance inland waterway transport in the Baltic Sea Region. The round table meeting was organized by the EMMA project partner Baltic Sea Forum and was chaired by Mr. Kurt Bodewig, Chairman of the Baltic Sea Forum and European Coordinator for the Motorways of the Sea.
Mr. Stefan Breitenbach, Head of Project Department at the Port of Hamburg Marketing, the lead partner of project EMMA, opened the round table by presenting project EMMA and its results for the participants. He reminded that IWT is a relatively small sector in the Baltic Sea Region compared to bigger rail and truck sectors and has a lot of potential that should be taken advantage of. The appointment of the project EMMA as a flagship project for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in the Policy Area Transport reflects the importance the European Commission attaches to the further development of inland navigation in the region.
In addition to national budgets of Member States, EU grants continue to play a key role financing the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) – particularly for projects deemed essential to the successful implementation of the network as a whole but which cannot offer the profitability sought by investors, even with the support of risk bearing mechanisms. Thus, it is essential to be a part of the core network to be able to get funding for infrastructural improvements. Hamburg, as an example, is well-situated in relation to several core network corridors.
The Port of Hamburg, Germany's largest seaport and one of Germany’s biggest inland ports, is linked with the German inland waterway network via the Elbe Lateral Canal and the Mittelland Canal. The extension of the Mittelland Canal, related to both Orient–East-Med and North Sea–Baltic Core Network Corridors, serves as a good example of funding of a multiple corridor project. In general, Innovation and Networks Executive Agency’s (INEA) statistics demonstrate good success rates for inland waterway project proposals.
European example should be an impulse for improvements in the Baltic Sea Region. The European Union aims to become the world's first climate neutral economy by 2050. The European Commission's vision for a climate-neutral future covers nearly all EU policies and is in line with the Paris Agreement. Emission reductions are needed also in the transport sector, where all transport modes should contribute to the decarbonisation of the mobility system to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This requires an environmentally friendly mindset concentrated for instance on new technology and low and zero emission vehicles. During the round table, the experts emphasized supporting the use of alternative fuels. It was highlighted that inland waterway transport is a sustainable mode of transport which could play a bigger role in the European transport system than it has played hitherto.
The round table was a good continuation of EMMA’s active work to increase international cooperation and to serve as a stakeholder platform to discuss and promote IWT. Last month the position paper “Strengthening Inland Waterway Transport in Europe and the Baltic Sea Region” was handed out by EMMA lead partner, Port of Hamburg Marketing, and the European IWT associations to the representatives of UNECE, DG MOVE of the European Commission, European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The policy paper emphasizes a need for a clear strategy to lift IWT potentials in the Baltic Sea Region and brings forward means to strengthen inland navigation and river-sea shipping in Europe and especially in the Baltic Sea Region, providing input to future discussions. Results of this round table will also be embedded into further discussion about fostering inland navigation in Europe and in the Baltic Sea Region.
Head of Project Department, Port of Hamburg Marketing,
Tel: +49 40 37709 121