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Procedure : 2006/2085(INI)
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Document selected : A6-0299/2006

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PV 25/10/2006 - 16
CRE 25/10/2006 - 16

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PV 26/10/2006 - 6.12
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Thursday, 26 October 2006 - Strasbourg
Inland waterway transport

European Parliament resolution on the promotion of inland waterway transport: NAIADES, an integrated European Action Programme for inland waterway transport (2006/2085(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission on the promotion of inland waterway transport: NAIADES (COM(2006)0006),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 of 29 March 1999 on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport(1),

–   having regard to the Commission white paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" (COM(2001)0370),

–   having regard to the findings of the inland navigation high level meeting held in Vienna from 13 to 15 February 2006,

–   having regard the Lisbon agenda for jobs and growth,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A6-0299/2006),

A.   whereas transport flows are expected to increase and inland waterways still offer a lot of free capacity and can contribute to competitive transport solutions using a combination of modes of transport,

B.   whereas greater ambition is needed in Europe in order to fully exploit more of the free capacity on inland waterways and the market potential of inland navigation in isolation and as a part of multi-modal transport chains across Europe, including by involving public and private parties at national and Community level, and in order to raise the volume of transport on inland waterways, incurring relatively low infrastructure costs,

C.   whereas close cooperation among the Commission, the River Commissions, the Member States and all interested private parties is of essential importance to improving competitiveness and developing waterway transport,

The NAIADES action programme

1.  Recognises that the European transport system is increasingly confronted with capacity problems, leading to congestion and delays, and that inland waterway transport (IWT) can help reduce congestion, improve freight transport safety, contribute to better energy efficiency and protect the environment;

2.  Supports, therefore, the initiative of the Commission to establish an integrated European action programme for inland waterway transport: NAIADES (Navigation and inland waterway action and development in Europe);

3.  Invites the Member States to further develop national policies to stimulate IWT, taking into account the European Action Programme, and to encourage regional, local and port authorities and industries to do likewise;


4.  Emphasizes that existing markets should be consolidated, in particular by making infrastructure more reliable and better integrated across the whole supply chain;

5.  Stresses that links with the new Member States in Eastern and Central Europe and also with Romania and Bulgaria must be developed and brought into line with current technology, which means that additional infrastructure measures must be considered and measures relating to intermodality and interoperability taken;

6.  Stresses the need to develop opportunities for innovative multi-modal services in order to build new markets in which cooperation among IWT operators and users and national and regional authorities will be essential;

7.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in view of the fact that the sector consists mainly of small businesses, to improve access to finance, and especially risk capital, for start-ups, fully taking into account, when planning and carrying out relevant measures, the specific structure of the sector;

8.  Fully supports in this regard the Commission's initiative to provide sources of information on the subject of financing, for example a funding handbook containing a list of European, national and regional aid instruments for IWT, covering, if appropriate, funding from the European Investment Fund;

9.  Asks the Commission to publish as soon as possible State aid guidelines for IWT support schemes and to adopt de minimis rules that take due account of the needs of the inland navigation sector;

10.  Welcomes the Commission's plan to screen existing bottlenecks at national and European level that hamper the development of IWT; calls for all public and private parties involved to contribute to this screening, to examine potential solutions and look for best practices, with the results of the screening being taken into account when drafting future legislation or taking new measures;

11.  Stresses that administrative bottlenecks should be removed and procedures simplified, in particular by making optimal use of e-communication and by establishing one-stop-shops; believes that specific attention should be paid to procedures in sea and inland ports as well as to legislation on the environment, waste and food safety that leads to the disruption of logistics processes;


12.  Points out that the reliability of the waterway network and the availability of multi-functional (inland) ports are the most important conditions for the further development of IWT, above all as a part of multimodal freight transport chains, and for the sector in technical and economic respects and emphasizes the particular responsibility of Member States to increase their efforts to ensure adequate and reliable infrastructure, whilst taking into account environmental risks and aspects;

13.  Stresses that particular attention should be paid to the development of waterways in the new Member States and the acceding countries, as more attention needs to be paid to waterways in these countries than in other Member States;

14.  Points to the importance of River Information Services (RIS) to contributing to a more efficient and safer use of the inland waterway network and its links with other modes of transport; calls upon the Commission and the Member States to include RIS as part of the multi-annual indicative programme of TEN-T and fully to tap the potential of RIS for achieving sustainable logistics;

15.  Points to the need to integrate the waterway system with maritime navigation by developing access to the sea, improving interfaces between inland waterway and maritime systems, and investing in new combined inland waterway and seagoing vessels, including vessels of innovative design;

16.  Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with Member States and any third countries involved, to draw up a European Development Plan which should contain an up-to-date inventory of the infrastructure on European inland waterways and to provide more information on waterways in need of maintenance and other improvements to infrastructure; calls also on the Commission, in doing so, to make use of the existing findings of scientific studies and expert reports in the Member States;

17.  Calls upon the Commission to designate as soon as possible, and by the end of 2006 at the latest, a European TEN-T coordinator for IWT to support the implementation of the IWT TEN-T priority projects, drawing on experience with existing coordinators;

18.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to give a higher preferential rate of at least 20% to all inland waterway projects of common interest and to give greater priority to inland waterways projects of common interest in the multi-annual TEN-T program;

19.  Calls upon Member States to consider the IWT potential in land use planning and in economic policies at federal, regional and local levels so as to actively encourage the development of waterside commercial and logistic sites, taking into account sustainable transport and job creation in industry and distribution, and to pay special attention to small waterways which have an unexploited potential to enhance freight mobility;


20.  Recalls the need to lay down in 2007 stricter Community limits for SOx, PM, NOx and CO2 emissions, in particular by promoting low-sulphur fuel; calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide incentives to accelerate the introduction and use of fuel efficient and environmentally friendly engines in IWT in order to improve its energy efficiency;

21.  Acknowledging that emissions are closely linked to the quality of the fuel available on the market, invites the Commission to submit as soon as possible a proposal setting stricter standards for inland shipping fuels;

22.  Invites the Commission to submit in 2007 a proposal for a European Waterway Transport Innovation Fund for the financing of new demand-based investments and innovative concepts of European interest in the area of logistics, technology and the environment requiring cross-border cooperation and interoperability; is of the opinion that this fund, as a key instrument of the NAIADES Action Programme, should be financed as to one third by the sector (the existing Inland Waterway [reserve] Fund, created under Regulation (EC) No 718/1999), as a means of co-financing, as to another third by the EU and as to the remaining third by the Member States; calls, further, on the Commission to draw up, in close cooperation with the sector, the conditions under which this fund should be established; points out that support for information offices should be considered as an option;

23.  Stresses the need to encourage the development of clean and efficient vessels under the Seventh Framework Programme on research and development; points, in this respect, to developments in vessel construction for use on different kinds of waters, including limited draught, which can promote IWT even on waters with low or variable water levels, without harming the natural environment; considers, in this connection, that there should be a particular focus on information and communication technologies and the design, eco-efficiency and equipment of vessels;

Jobs, skills and image

24.  Recognises that the shortage of entrepreneurs and staff is becoming a problem for the IWT sector, given the aging of current personnel and a lack of appeal to newcomers;

25.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue their efforts to harmonise manning requirements and boat masters' certificates, and to promote the mutual recognition of qualifications, e.g. via the European Qualifications Framework;

26.  Calls on the Commission, the River Commissions and the Member States to develop, in cooperation with the sector, modern and market-oriented training programmes for the sector, using where possible common training standards and cooperating with maritime training programmes such as "Leadership", in order to attract newcomers to work in an international environment and to offer attractive career prospects;

27.  Stresses the importance of enforcing existing social legislation to safeguard good working conditions;

28.  Notes there is still a lack of awareness of the possibilities of carriage of goods by IWT, in particular as regards the potential for flexibility and sustainability of IWT;

29.  Recognises that, in order for it to be fully utilised and successful, the economic value of and possibilities for IWT need to be explained and advertised; calls therefore for support for existing IWT promotion offices and the creation of new ones in Member States with IWT potential which can advise and encourage transport users to use inland shipping, and for support for authorities in the identification of problems and definition of policies;

30.  Proposes that this European network for promoting IWT should be integrated into a European network for promoting intermodality, using existing structures and experience gained in promoting other modes of transport, in particular in relation to the promotion of short sea shipping at European level;

31.  Calls on the Member States and stakeholders concerned, in the absence of dedicated Community funding, to undertake to ensure the financial sustainability of this network;

32.  Notes the importance of a European Market Observation System involving all actors and providing comparable market information, notably to allow timely and responsible investment decisions, to identify strong and weak points and to discover possible new markets;

The institutional framework

33.  Points out that the growth and prosperity of IWT must be the focal point for future discussions on the institutional framework; stresses, in this connection, that it is important to take account of the existing competences of all relevant parties, to make use of the expertise of international organisations and to avoid additional bureaucracy;

34.  Calls for intensified and enhanced cooperation between the River Commissions and the Community, to be laid down in a Memorandum of Understanding covering at least the following:

   implementation of the NAIADES Action Programme;
   better exchange of acquired knowledge and human resources in the field of IWT between the Community, the Member States and the River Commissions;

o   o

35.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 90, 2.4.1999, p. 1.

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