We need a European plan to help inland navigation in the "sustainable transition" and the "digital transformation" that will be needed in the coming decades. In the interests of the sector and of Europe. Financing must also be regulated at European level, because the sector cannot raise the necessary money itself. That is what VVD Member of the European Parliament Caroline Nagtegaal-van Doorn says.
On Friday 27 November, she presented a European plan for inland waterway transport on behalf of Renew Europe, the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament. In the 'Strategic Agenda for a Future-proof Inland Navigation in Europe', Nagtegaal-van Doorn advocates support for inland navigation that goes beyond the current programmes, such as NAIADES. It wants European policy to bring about a substantial modal shift: large quantities of cargo have to go from road to water, "reducing CO2 emissions and creating fewer traffic jams".
Transport is crucial in today's 'stay-at-home economy', according to Nagtegaal-van Doorn, but inland navigation is often overlooked. That needs to change, she thinks.
"The inland shipping sector can play a major role in the green and digital transition needed for a future-proof sector. Developments in the field of autonomous and emission-free vessels are rapid, but the sector cannot make these investments on its own. Renew Europe therefore thinks it is time to invest in European inland navigation.
Thirty years is all it takes for humanity to make society sustainable and climate neutral without having to give up our high standard of living, stresses Nagtegaal-van Doorn. Inland navigation can play an important role in this transition.
The sector can play a key role in reducing congestion on our motorways, according to the Dutch politician. "This is a cross-border challenge where we must need to join forces at European level. Inland navigation can play a major role as a sustainable transport alternative of the future, but we are missing out on a lot of potential if you only see how much pressure we could take away from our motorways and in cities if we made better use of our waterways".
Investing in inland waterway transport
Nagtegaal-van Doorn sees that the sector is prepared to become greener and is willing and able to make a contribution to climate policy. "But discussions with the sector made it clear to me that they cannot do it alone. After all, the sector often consists of family businesses, the self-employed and other SMEs. It is time for a new European agenda for inland navigation that supports the sector. We would be mad if we did not invest in our inland shipping.