Revitalizing Europe’s Inland Waterways: A Modern Approach

The recent European Commission proposal targets improved traffic management efficiency on rivers and canals, including key waterways like the Danube and Rhine. Aligned with the EU’s “Green Deal” and “Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy”, it aims to transition more cargo to inland waterways.

Transport Commissioner Adina Valea emphasized, “Modern river information services will enhance communication between barge operators and skippers, facilitating smoother interactions with port operators and authorities for improved voyage planning.” This aligns with integrating inland waterways transport into modern logistics and multimodal chains.

The proposal updates the existing EU directive on river information services (RIS), covering traffic information, waterway conditions, infrastructure, voyage planning, and reporting in 12 EU Member States along 13,000 km of interconnected waterways.

While the 2005 directive positively impacted harmonization, modernization is needed to address current challenges such as digitalization, efficiency, sustainability, competitiveness, and modal shift. The new proposal establishes a framework for RIS deployment, ensuring data availability and harmonized technical specifications, meeting expectations of the inland waterways transport sector and adapting to evolving industry requirements.