Inland ports urge the true completion of the European Network
On 14 December the European Commission published its proposal to revise the TEN-T Guidelines. The proposal outlines various actions that will future-proof the European transport network and further support multimodal transport.
The European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP) has for the last months analysed and discussed the aspects of the TEN-T proposal. EFIP brings together nearly 200 inland ports and port authorities in 18 countries of the European Union, Switzerland, Serbia and Ukraine. As enablers of Green Logistics, the success of the European network is the foundation of realising the priorities that Europe’s inland ports have been pursuing since the publication of the EFIP Strategy Paper and the European Green Deal in 2019.
Core to the success of the European network is ensuring it is a true long-range multimodal one. The TEN-T proposal has this as one of its objectives but does not go far enough. Many inland ports are struggling with subpar rail operating conditions, their last mile rail connections being removed and having non-reliable inland navigation. In order to ensure that multimodality stands at the centre of European logistics, legal instruments have to be put in place to ensure that inland ports can continue to act as multimodal hubs.
Inland shipping is an essential transport mode in achieving the European Green Deal. The success and competitiveness of the sector is wholly dependent on the quality and breath of the network. This requires infrastructure that is adapted to ensure year-round navigability on each river basin. The inland ports welcome the proposed flexibility and adaptability in the proposed Good Navigation Status (GNS) system. GNS will allow navigation rules to be adapted to the local and regional hydrological situations.
At the same time, the proposal foresees requirements to enable environmentally friendly inland waterway transport. This is very necessary given the need to achieve carbon neutral navigation and the improvement of local air quality. Inland ports have committed themselves to deploying the necessary infrastructure for this. However, the proposal will jeopardise the progress the sector has made over the last number of decades. For instance, the current proposal will override and muddy the progress of the Convention on the collection, deposit and reception of waste produced during navigation on the Rhine and inland waterways (CDNI). The CDNI has been a flagship within the sector on waste-reception and degassing. The proposal should be adjusted to ensure that CDNI and other such instruments are maintained.
EFIP President Antoine Berbain said: “The TEN-T network is the European foundation of the multimodal network that will help us achieve the Green Deal. Strong interplay between inland shipping, rail and road allows for the reduction of emissions and other external costs while making our logistical system more competitive. Inland ports are committed to being the enablers of green logistics and the proposed TEN-T Guidelines revision will guide us in the years to come.”
The EFIP position paper and legislative recommendations can be found here.