Highlight: Vlaamse Waterweg

Good news about our ports

11 October 2022

1.       Seine-Escaut is the corner-stone IWT project in Europe, what is Vlaamse Waterwegs’ role in realising it?

Seine-Escaut is by definition an European endeavour : France, Flanders and Wallonia work together to create a new large-gauge waterway network, linking two major industrial and demographic regions.  De Vlaamse Waterweg takes part in the international governance of the project, as the representative of the Flemish Government in the Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) and as a member of the European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG). It furthermore coordinates and implements the Flemish part of the overall project, i.e. roughly the link between the French border and the Flemish (and Dutch) ports (Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, …). This link will be realized mainly by upgrading the river Lys to enable traffic up to ECMT class Vb (in one direction) with 3 layers of containers. At the same time, the Flemish waterway network relating to this main link will be strengthened and modernized (Upper-Scheldt, canals Roeselare-Lys and Bossuit-Kortrijk, canal Ghent-Bruges, canal Brussels-Charleroi, …).

2.       What are the greatest challenges in realising Seine-Escaut in your experience?

The sheer size and complexity of the project, both at the European level or on the regional scale, make it challenging to prepare, coordinate and implement the project in a timely manner. In that sense, the overall timeline set out in the Implementing Act is undoubtedly clear and helpful, but also quite ambitious.

Another challenge is to keep the project and all of its parts up to date and adapted to the present-day context. Seine-Escaut, as all other big projects, has to deal with and adapt to a number of topics and developments such as climate change, digitalisation, ecosystem services, etc… The integration of these aspects in the further design and roll-out of the project design is key to keeping it relevant and in line with current standards and expectations.