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COVID-19 restrictions hamper delivering Green Deal

Requested support measures  to overcome the Covid-19 crisis and to deliver the Green deal

Brussels, 24 April 2020. Inland waterway transport is vital for supply of the European society and economy. It is therefore crucial to guarantee free movement of goods and crew members in Europe and to support the sector in its recovery after COVID-19.
So far the international carriage of goods is not endangered and IWT remains providing its services. The passenger- and cruising sector however already at the beginning of COVID-19 fully collapsed and the other segments are heavily affected by the COVID crisis. This is equally the case in the River Sea Shipping area.

The IWT sector is committed to protect the health and welfare of its crew members and is engaged in
finding appropriate solutions regarding the safe changes of crew. EBU and ESU therefore welcome the
Green Lane communication of the European Commission (C2020-1753 final) – and its communication
on the implementation of the Green Lanes under the Guidelines for border management measures
to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services (C2020-1897 final) which
call upon EU Member States to guarantee an unhampered safe movement of crew members to ensure
adequate movement of goods and essential staff. EBU and ESO equally welcome the Resolution of the
CCNR to support the sector in overcoming this crisis as well as all efforts undertaken by the Danube

To cope with the restrictions imposed by the COVID 19 measures the sector at this stage needs
flexibility with regard to certain regulatory frameworks such as the Working Time Directive, crewing
and technical regulations

Effect of COVID on the sector and the Green Deal
The COVID-19 crisis is expected to have a much longer impact on the sector than strictly limited to the health crisis. After the collapse of the passenger shipping (day trip and cruising) industry already at the very beginning meanwhile also the other segments are heavily affected by COVID leading to a new economic crisis in the sector.
To mitigate the negative impact on the sector an EU wide recovery strategy is needed to overcome
the economic crisis and to keep up with the future European policies, in particular the Green Deal.
The IWT sector welcomes the European Commission’s Green Deal which aims to reduce transport
emissions by shifting a substantial part of the freight carried by road to inland waterway transport
(IWT) and rail. IWT has a huge modal shift potential on the entire European network of waterways and
already today has very low CO2 emissions compared to road. It can substantially contribute to deliver
the Green Deal.

The sector calls upon
– the European Commission to support the industry by dedicated measures and funding
in these areas.
– the Member States to allocate a specific COVID-19 recovery fund as part of the new
MFF and to submit national funding schemes for the realisation of the energy
transition of the sector and the modal shift as foreseen in the Green Deal.
– the River Commissions to support the above measures.

The sector itself is looking into the possibilities of using means of the so called reserve fund for
financial emergency aid in order to support the barge owners and operators to overcome the crisis.

Read the full press release here.

Urgent COVID-19 recommendations

                                            The socio-economic impact on both companies and their employees is huge.

Brussels, 31 March, 2020. European Social Partners for Inland Waterways Transport (EBU/ESO/ETF) note the immense challenge the COVID-19 pandemic poses to the sector.
As one of the essential sectors, IWT has to remain in safe operational mode throughout Europe. Safety under the present circumstances gets a deeper meaning: besides the safe sailing, safe working on board is paramount.

Social Partners launch this urgent call to the European Commission, the National Governments of all European navigating countries, all local bodies and authorities as well to the employers and employees themselves, to take into account our joint requests and recommendations. 

Continuity for companies and crewmembers
Many European countries issue national economic measures in support of their industries and employees. As European Social Partners we would like to underline that striving for balance is essential. Measures have to support the continuity of the shipping companies, but also have to ensure income security for all crewmembers too, both for freight and passenger transport, as well as for both nautical and hotel staff. We deem it of the utmost importance that crewmembers have security in these difficult times. This is the only fair guarantee for well trained and qualified crewmembers to remain available for the IWT sector once the crisis is over and to solidify knowledge and competencies within their own sector.

Link to the full press release (EN)


ESO presents annual report 2018

Foreword ESO’s annual report 2018

Dear reader,

In my capacity as president of the European Skippers’Organisation (ESO) vzw it is truly an honor and pleasure to introduce to you our annual report on the 2018 working year.

Although ESO was already founded in 1975, now that legal entity has recently been acquired, this annual report gives us an opportunity to present to you an insight into the activities with which our skippers’ organisation is involved, naturally with the focus on Europe, the CCNR and other supra-national bodies.

With some sense of pride, I can state without a shadow of a doubt that with modest means, but with an international group of enthusiastic employees, we uphold the interests of inland shipping. In particular we attend to the interests of the independent entrepreneurs / skippers, almost in all its facets.
This is by no means an easy task and, as you can see in this report, a solid internal organisation has been set up.

The external structure has also been put on the European map since the end of 2017 with the establishment of the joint IWT platform (Inland Waterway Transport). In a joint composition with the European Barge Union (EBU), we focus with this platform on the enormous challenges facing the inland shipping sector in Europe.

I would like to take this opportunity to honor our former Secretary-General, Hester Duursema – who left us in 2018- for the groundbreaking work she has achieved in her relatively short stay with ESO!

I sincerely wish to thank all employees in front of and behind the scenes of ESO from the bottom of my heart for their disinterested, but very professional attitude and infectious workforce. Since 2012 I am allowed to be part of this excellent team.

PANTA RHEI… .. everything flows…. everything is moving …

Yours sincerely,                                      

Christiaan VanLancker, president.

Link to the annual report

CESNI publications and work program

Press release CESNI                                                                               

Strasbourg, 10 April 2019 – The European Committee for drawing up Standards in the field of Inland Navigation (CESNI) met in Strasbourg on Wednesday 10 April 2019. The meeting was chaired by Ms Lucia Luijten, representing the Netherlands.

11 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, United Kingdom), as well as the European Commission, the River Commissions (Moselle, Rhine) and 7 organisations approved by CESNI (Aquapol, EBU, EDINNA, ESO, ETF, GERC, IVR) participated in the meeting of the Committee.

The discussed items are published in the Committee’s press release:            

  • New publications and updates in the field of technical requirements for vessels
  • Debates on uniform models for certificates of qualification
  • Request for approval from the “European Maritime Heritage” (EMH) association
  • Work programme 2019-2021

ESO wishes you all happy New Year

Brussels, 20 December, 2018.

Dear all,

2018 will be remembered as the year in which ESO and EBU, the two organisations representing inland shipping, joint forces in the Inland Waterway Transport Platform.
The official launch event of the IWT Platform will take place on January 21, 2019, in Brussels. 

With our combined forces and funding we can strengthen our representation and bring it to a higher level of expertise and influence, which is quite necessary.

The challenges for the coming years are enormous. We have to take giant steps to comply with the goals for decarbonisation and reducing the harmful pollutants. Also our infrastructure needs upgrading and extension, and in the field of human resources we have to make extra efforts to increase the attractiveness of our sector.

In other words, people, planet, prosperity are, as far we are concerned, leading in inland shipping.

We hope to continue our constructive cooperation with you and all stakeholders in order to achieve our goals.

On behalf of all ESO collegues we wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Gerard Kester
Secretary General

Delmeire coordinates European IWT platform

Brussels, December 20th, 2018. The European IWT Platform, this year created by EBU and ESO, is pleased to announce the nomination of Mr. Nik Delmeire as its coordinator.

EBU Secretary General Theresia Hacksteiner and ESO Secretary General Gerard Kester: ‘We are glad to have Nik on board the platform. With his knowledge of shipping organisations he can very well contribute to the ambitions our sector has’.

In his new capacity Mr. Demeire will be responsible for the coordination of the platform. As such he will in particular cope with innovation and digitalisation, one of the major challenges of the sector in the coming years. Nik will be one of the faces of the Inland Waterway Transport presence within Europe and act as our continuous presence in Brussels. As coordinator of the platform he will be closely cooperating with the secretaries general of EBU and ESO.

As of 1 January 2019 EBU and ESO, the two organisations representing the inland waterway transport sector at European level, established the “European Inland Waterway Transport (IWT) Platform”.  The platform is intended to add a new dimension of expertise to the benefit of the entire inland navigation community and all institutions involved in it. And thus strengthen our sector.

At the IWT Platform launch event on 21st of January 2019 our stakeholders will be able to meet Nik in person.

Programlink event and free registration

About Nik Delmeire:
During the first 30 years of his career he has taken the opportunity to cover most aspects of the supply chain of a large and multinational manufacturer of goods. Through these roles he got in contact with the European Shippers’ Council. He joined ESC as Secretary General in October 2014. In this role he was heavily involved in initiatives and projects that should lead to maximal digitalisation and greening of all logistics processes.

Downloadlink press release

Note for editors. If you have any questions please contact:
EBU: Theresia Hacksteiner (+31 (0)653336366)
ESO: Gerard Kester (+31 (0) 624118040)

ES-TRIN 2019 Standard adopted by CESNI

Solutions for difficult transitional measures have been incorporated in ES-TRIN 2019!

Brussels, 13 November 2018 – Press release ESO and EBU.                                
The CESNI-Committee has adopted on 8 November 2019 the new ‘European Standard laying down Technical Requirements for Inland Navigation vessels’, ES-TRIN 2019, replacing ES-TRIN 2017. The solutions for difficult transitional measures are incorporated.

EBU und ESO associated in the “ European Inland Waterway Platform ( shortly IWT Platform)“ have fully participated in the negotiations to make sure that the interests of the inland waterway transport sector will be taken into account as far as possible. The common efforts are now clearly yielding fruit!

Solutions for difficult transitional measures
It takes long to formulate new regulations and if necessary even longer to change the regulations. Detailed studies, extensive deliberations and many years of intense engagement of the inland
waterway transport sector have resulted in a solution for difficult transitional measures. They refer to noise protection, models for electrical equipment and installations, ship’s boats, escape routes and propulsion systems for passenger vessels, all serious bottlenecks for the inland waterway transport sector. EBU and ESO are pleased that with ES-TRIN 2019 solutions in the interest of the inland waterway transport sector were found.

ES-TRIN 2019
In order to guarantee a high level of safety of the transport on inland waterways and at the same time considering the technological developments, the European Standard laying down Technical Requirements for Inland Navigation vessels (ES-TRIN) is subject to a regular revision. ES-TRIN on itself is not binding.
The Central Commission for the Navigation on the Rhine and the European Union will refer to it in their statutory framework, as with currently applicable Standard ES-TRIN 2017.
ES-TRIN 2019 will enter into force on 1 January 2020.

Downloadlinks for the complete document:

(Think before printing, document counts over 500 pages.)

NL – CESNI ES-TRIN 18_15 nl
EN – CESNI ES-TRIN 18_15 en
DE – CESNI ES-TRIN 18_15 de
FR – CESNI ES-TRIN 18_15 fr

ESO launches Barging Terms & Charterparty

ESO Inland Barging Terms & Charterparty version 1
Developed by ESO’s Commission for Tanker Shipping and ADN               pdf-versions      

Brussels, May 3rd, 2018. This day the ESO Inland Barging Terms & Charterparty were launched at the 4th European Oil Barge Conference, organised by ASDEM Ltd in Rotterdam. A step forward in the professionalisation of the inland tanker shipping sector.
The inland tanker shipping needed its own terms and charterparty just as any other professional sector. Therefore back in 2017 ESO started developing these.with a group of experts and members.


Mr. Co Abercrombie (director BLN-Schuttevaer) presenting Barging Terms & Charterparty

The development of the ESO Inland Barging Terms & Charterparty was done from the viewpoint of the shipowner/actual carrier. Striving for consensus as well as creating a document which can be used for negotiation, the ESO Inland Barging Terms & Charterparty form the basis for this. These terms can be seen as a modernisation of the current TTB-conditions or other common terms which are used today.

As a European branch organisation which defends the interests of the private inland shipping entrepreneurs, ESO took its responsibility to form basic terms and a charterparty which strengthens the position of the individual shipowner/actual carrier, active in the inland tanker shipping sector. Meanwhile ESO continues to support the entrepreneurs and create a modern and professional sector, in consensus with all parties involved.

You can download the ESO Inland Barging Terms & Charterparty here: Barging Terms & Charterparty.

At this moment the document is only available in the english language.

Kester succeeds Duursema as ESO’s SG

“Every one can make a difference, but together we bring about change”                

Brussels, 26 February, 2018 (ESO) – During the New Year’s reception of the ESO on February 26th in Brussels, nestor Gerard Kester was appointed as the new SG of the ESO. He succeeds the departing Secretary General, Hester Duursema (equally managing director of Royal BLN-Schuttevaer). The chairman Christiaan van Lancker spoke praising words about the role Duursema has played for the sector. He summarised her contribution as “sublime” and predicted a prosperous future for her.


Duursema has full confidence in her successor. “Gerard does not only have an incredible knowledge base of inland shipping, but he also has a lot of heart for the sector. These are things that ESO is known for, passion and expertise. “Kester has been involved in inland navigation for decades. For example, his first job at the end of the seventies, was to ensure that women on board were allowed to count as crew members.

ESO also said goodbye to Herman Verschueren, Advisor-General DG Shipping, Exploitation and Intermodality at the FPS Mobility and Transport. Verschueren will retire after many years of involvement with IWT. We are very grateful to him for the enormous commitment to the establishment of the European inland navigation platform. Until his very last working days he has put his teeth into it.

          Christiaan van Lancker with Mr. Herman Verschueren and Mrs. Gesine Meissner

Human Capital
In line with the above, the president’s speech was dominated by the theme of “human capital”. 2017 was a historic year, when we look at the commitment that is being made to better safeguard and develop human capital. The professional qualification directive should ensure that the pool of qualified people is increased, since it concerns harmonisation of the way we test which competences. Gesine Meissner, MEP for the FDP, was our guest speaker and she stressed how difficult it was to reach a political compromise. Some countries did not want to participate at all, other countries found it difficult to fit it into the national school systems, etc .. After a few questions we concluded that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, whether it is workable and whether it delivers what we intended, namely a larger pool of qualified people working in our sector.

In addition to this important topic, the president also referred to the research together with the European employee organisation (ETF), the so-called TASCS-study. This study looks at the crew requirements, what fits with the current time and what a system should look like? The aim is to develop  a Add Newsystem flexible enough to adapt at current times and can adapt to upcoming developments such as semi-autonomous sailing.

Warning for disappearing berthing sites
Serious bottlenecks have also been identified in relation to the safeguarding of human capital. For example, the various minimum wage laws that have been implemented in Germany and France. This is causing a lot of red tape, while wages for the nautical staff are fair at the moment. The Working Time Directive is also very cumbersome. But the biggest pain at the moment is the fact that the shore infrastructure along the Rhine is deteriorating. Local communities (f.e. Colon) have no idea how inland shipping works and the importance of inland shipping for the ins and outs of their economy. Inland shipping can simply not operate without good berths and car drop-offs. There is a huge challenge to reverse this trend. Here the European IWT platform will work very closely together with the German member organisations (BDB and BDS). Because inland shipping is all about people, but then people have to be able to work and live on board.
Van Lancker concluded his speach with: “Every one of us can make a difference, but together we bring about change!”. Only joint efforts can make things move.

IWT Market Insight winter 2017/2018

“Water conditions very important for IWT to benefit from economic growth.”                     

CCNR Strasbourg, February 15, 2018 – During the first semester of 2017, the pace of economic growth in Europe surpassed expectations, propelled by resilient private consumption. The intra-EU-trade actually increased by 2.2% from the first semester of 2016 to the first semester of 2017. Several economic sectors benefited from these positive economic conditions such as the steel industry and the construction sector.

The European inland navigation transport performance was not able to benefit from this economic growth during the first quarter of 2017 due to the environmental conditions. Low water levels on the Rhine and on the Danube, particularly in January 2017, together with ice periods on the Danube, reduced freight transport performance in these two river basins. With better water conditions during the second quarter of 2017, transport performance on the Traditional Rhine increased by 11% between the first and the second quarter of 2017.

Inland navigation activity returned to 2016 levels, and transport performance on the Rhine even increased by 2% during this second quarter of 2017 compared to 2016. This recovery is a general evolution that has been observed both on the Danube and on the Rhine and on all its tributaries. Further details on the evolution by country, by inland ports and by market segment are available in the Winter Market Insight 2017/2018.

Coal transport will decrease
Furthermore, a focus on coal transport is provided in the quarterly report. The energy sector and the
steel industry are the two essential drivers for coal transport via inland shipping in Europe, and as the
share of imported coal increases, inland navigation is increasingly needed for the transport of coal from major sea ports to the hinterland. Nevertheless, coal consumption — especially in the energy sector — is currently decreasing in favour of renewable alternatives, and it is also foreseen that coal transport will decrease. This decrease is expected to be compensated by the growth of other market segments in 2018 and in particular by the transport of agricultural products, building materials and containers.