ESPO welcomes EP-TRAN report which stresses the role of and connection with seaports to boost IWT

30 June 2021

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) welcomes the vote of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) to strengthen inland waterway transport. The adopted own-initiative report “Towards Future-proof Inland Waterway Transport (IWT) in Europe” complements very well the recently published Commission’s Communication “NAIADES III: Boosting future-proof European inland waterway transport” by adding seaports to the picture.

Many European ports actively pursue modal split strategies to increase the use of sustainable transport modes, and to maximise the potential of inland waterways where available. The TRAN report by MEP Caroline Nagtegaal (Renew) acknowledges the crucial and strategic role Europe’s seaports play in enabling a modal shift towards inland waterway transport, as a large share of inland waterway freight passes through the seaports.

Caroline Nagtegaal (Renew)

ESPO especially welcomes this recognition, as well as the support for the increasing cooperation between sea and inland ports. Furthermore, the report rightly identifies that an increased reliability is key to the sector’s success, that investments in inland waterway infrastructure in and around sea ports are of paramount importance and that improved bundling of inland waterway freight would facilitate a more efficient transport to and from the seaports.

We would like to congratulate the rapporteur, shadows and all MEPs involved with the outcome of this report. We appreciate in particular how the report is recognising and emphasising the role of and connectivity with seaports in boosting inland waterway transport. We miss this recognition in the new NAIADES action plan. I think the NAIADES Action plan combined with this report are a good basis to reach the Mobility Strategy targets for IWT. We must hope that the Commission is planning a comparable concrete action plan for short-sea shipping, for which the Mobility Strategy set the same growth targets as for IWT,says Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General of ESPO.

A few days earlier, the European Commission had presented its action plan “NAIADES III: Boosting future-proof European inland waterway transport” comprising 35 actions and 8 flagship initiatives. ESPO fully agrees with the need for substantial investments in IWT and multimodal infrastructure, fleet modernisation and digitalisation, but believes that an integrated approach between seaport, inland ports and inland waterways is necessary to reach the sector’s full potential.

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