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.