The European Commission’s recent allocation of €6.2 billion in grants from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) has brought good news for the inland waterway transport (IWT) sector. In this round of funding, the IWT sector secured €636 million for ten projects, accounting for nearly 12% of the total budget. This significant investment reaffirms the EU’s commitment to sustainable, safe, and efficient transport infrastructure, with a particular focus on improving the reliability and predictability of navigation in key waterways.

Flagship Project: Seine-Escaut

The majority of the funding, amounting to €506 million, has been allocated to the Seine-Escaut project. This flagship project of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) aims to enhance the inland waterway connection between France and Belgium. Although a reduction of €116 million occurred due to budgetary constraints, the project remains a priority for the EU.

Improving Navigation on the Danube

Two related projects, 22-EU-TC-FAIRway Danube II and 22-EU-TG-FAIRway Danube II, received significant funding under the Cohesion envelope. The former, focusing on Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, secured €30 million, while the latter, involving Austria, Bulgaria, and Croatia, received €17 million. These projects seek to improve the reliability and predictability of navigation on the Danube, a vital waterway in Europe.

Cross-Border Navigation with River Information Services (RIS)

Recognizing the importance of safe inland navigation, the CEF is investing €18 million in the multi-country project 22-EU-TG-RIS COMEX 2. This project aims to enhance cross-border navigation through the implementation of River Information Services (RIS) on five core network corridors. Several Member States, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, will benefit from this initiative.

CEF’s Focus on Sustainable and Smart Mobility

The CEF’s allocation of funds prioritizes sustainable and smart mobility infrastructure across various modes of transportation. Rail projects, such as the Brenner Base tunnel, Rail Baltica, and cross-border connections between Germany and neighboring countries, received funding. Furthermore, maritime ports in Ireland, Greece, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Poland will be upgraded to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from moored vessels through on-shore power supply.

Enhancing Inland Waterway Transport Infrastructure

To ensure the future resilience of inland waterway transport, the CEF funding will be directed towards modernizing infrastructure along the Seine-Scheldt cross-border waterways between France and Belgium. Additionally, inland ports in the Danube and Rhine basins, including Vienna and Andernach, will receive upgrades to support efficient and safe navigation.

Improving Safety and Interoperability in Rail and Road Transport

In order to enhance safety and interoperability in rail transport, the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) will be deployed in several countries, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, and Slovakia. The road network will also see advancements through the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems and Services (ITS), including Cooperative ITS (C-ITS), to promote safer and more efficient transport.

The 107 projects have been selected from a total of 353 submitted in response to the call for proposals, published in 2022.
EU funding will take the form of grants, which will be used to co-finance total project costs.