Political Workshop at 7th Forum EUSBSR 08/11/2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 - 18:00

EMMA organised a political seminar during the 7th Forum for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

The seminar was entitled with "How to embed inland navigation in transport chains? Swedish challenges and European best practices."

In December 2014. Swedish legislation adopted the European framework for inland waterways and focuses on the development of this sector. The general opinion is that inland navigation should be enhanced in the Baltic Sea Region. Since countries in the region differ a lot in their geographical characteristics - for some of them is really easy to implement it, while for others that represents a major challenge, innovative solutions and the right political framework are needed in order to implement this project of major significance for the region. The Emma project is the latest flagship project of the EUSBSR worth 4.42 million euros, and it should be implemented by the 2019. The project gathers 21 partners from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Poland. It is considered to be really important project in the region, since it will increase the inland shipping in the region and gradually replace other ways of transportation. It is a good opportunity for trafficking, since it is efficient, environmentally friendly, and safe and can be a good alternative for trains.

Panelists of the seminar were: Stefan Engdahl from Trafikverket, Sweden, Birgitta Schäffer from Division WS 12, Waterway Infrastructure Engineering and RIS German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Johan Lantz, CEO of Avatar Logistics (developing solutions for inland navigation) and Hans van der Werf, former General Secretary of Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rheine. They were talking about good practices implemented so far, mainly in Germany, since this country has a big network of inland waterways (7300 to be precise), long history of inland navigation as well as following regulations. Germany has developed waterways towards Netherlands, Poland and Czech Republic, and increase of waterways number is expected until 2030. All the next steps about inland navigation in Germany are available in electronic forms on webpages of RIS.

Project was further discussed from the Swedish perspective. This country still doesn’t have policies about inland shipping, nor operative inland waterways. One of the main goals of the project is to build all necessary inland shipping infrastructure and work hard on developing the regulations in order for Sweden to join the network of inland waterways in the region. According to Trafikverket representative, studies so far showed only positive socioeconomic benefits. Pilot projects have been started in the northern part of the country. There is a high potential for inland navigation in Sweden. A lot of infrastructure should be built, but that shouldn’t be a problem – we are talking about huge investments, but benefits would be much bigger once when project is done. For Sweden, the only thing that is missing are proper regulations, and dialogue about technical regulation is about to begin in the Swedish government.

Everyone thinks these is a great way of connecting the region, and maybe Europe in the end and create a free market between the countries. However, there are some concerns. So far, piloting of ships showed to be costly, and according to current regulations big ships cannot operate without pilots. That is something that should be taken into consideration while creating regulations about inland navigation. The challenge is to keep it secure and not costly, at least less costly than the other ways of trafficking. In northern parts of the country, there are possible problems of icing, which should also be taken into consideration while creating technical regulations. Also, regulations should be uniformed in all the countries. Last and the biggest challenge of the project is to keep it environmentally friendly. Studies showed that inland navigation produces less carbon than any other way of transport, including trains. But, there is a potential danger of oil spills into the water which serves as a supply of drinking water for many citizens of these countries. Also, new infrastructure means more changes of the ecosystems, whose consequences should be carefully discussed.

Please find the presentations attached.