The European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP), Inland Navigation Europe (INE), the European Barge Union (EBU), the European Skippers’ Organisation (ESO), Pro Danube International (PDI) and the Maritime Port of Constanţa urge riparian states to implement better fairway maintenance and ensure navigation reliability on the Danube.
At a meeting of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) in Vukovar on 28 and 29 October 2014, the Priority Area 1a – inland waterways presented a Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its Navigable Tributaries which concludes that additional investments of about EUR 85 million would be sufficient to reach recommended levels of service, i.e. 2.50m fairway depth at low navigable water level along the majority of Danube sections (2.0m for the German section Straubing-Vilshofen).
Additional annual operational costs would amount to about EUR 8 million. Compared to the magnitude of many other transport infrastructure projects, this is a rather modest sum. The European Commission has also signaled its willingness to offer support through EU co-funding.
The current lack of fairway maintenance on the Danube resulting in unreliable navigation is a pressing issue for the inland waterway sector and the industry using it. The failure of some countries to honor their commitment to maintain the Danube threatens the safe and cost-efficient navigability of the river with disastrous consequences for the sector and affected industry.
The new master plan identifies critical maintenance locations which currently limit the navigability of the Danube and analyses the underlying issues and the financial needs required to resolve them. The majority of investments are needed for dredging equipment, fairway marking and riverbed surveying.
Investments are to be carried out in full compliance with EU environmental legislation, thus ensuring respect for biodiversity and integrated water management.