Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine

Continuing its long and fruitful collaboration with the European Commission, the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) is delighted to present its 2018 European Inland Navigation Market Observation report. This report coincides with a very special year for the CCNR, amid celebration of the 150 years of the Mannheim Act and its reaffirmed principle of freedom of navigation on the Rhine. As all readers of the report will be aware, the positive impact of this founding principle on the inland navigation market can still be observed today. 2018 also marks the start of key negotiations on the next European Union‘s multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, that will determine inter alia the Union’s budget allocated to the transport sector, including inland waterway transport (IWT) and related infrastructure, for the next 7 years. As Commissioner Bulc rightly pointed out in the last edition of our report, “inland navigation still holds huge potentials which we must use to make our transport system more efficient, resilient and sustainable”. A most ambitious EU budget should be made available to mirror this outstanding role played by the IWT sector.


The new Market Observation report highlights the key results for the year 2017, providing abundant statistics and elaborating on important market evolutions in relation to various aspects of inland navigation, including transport demand, fleet evolution, inland waterway transport companies and river cruises.


This 2018 edition of the report also includes new and forward-looking thematic studies. These cover in particular new growth opportunities for inland waterway transport, like urban logistics and biomass, for which demand is expected to grow in the future, in the wake of important trends like urbanisation and the greening of the energy sector. By conveying a positive message for IWT in terms of growth potential, scope for improvement and foreseeable changes, these studies are essential components of this report.


The CCNR Secretariat is continuously working to further improve the quality of the annual European Inland Navigation Market Observation reports. In particular, it is aiming to enlarge its statistical sources and the scope of the topics to be covered, thereby strengthening the European dimension and attractiveness of the reports.


Like in previous years, the CCNR Secretariat is very grateful to the European Commission, Eurostat and all National Statistical Offices, as well as to the Mosel, Danube and Sava River Commissions for their valuable and important contribution to the report. In particular, I would like to underline our excellent collaboration with the Danube Commission this year, which greatly enriched our report with regards to aspects related to inland navigation in central and eastern parts of Europe. Once again, the CCNR Secretariat would also like to thank the sector representatives, EBU and ESO, for their good advice and support. The Secretariat is convinced that inland waterway transport can and will grow ever stronger and will continue to benefit from such a partnership between the sector, the River Commissions and the European Commission.


I wish all readers of the report a most pleasant and stimulating read !


Bruno Georges
CCNR Secretary General

European Commission

Dear readers,


It is my great pleasure to congratulate the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) for this year’s European Inland Navigation Market Observation report, which provides, as always, a unique and invaluable source of information on the evolution of the inland waterways transport sector in Europe. This year’s edition confirms some of the trends observed and predicted during the previous years, such as the increase of the container and river cruise markets, as well as the potential for inland navigation ports to further develop into major economic clusters.


I am especially pleased that in 2018 cooperation between all the actors involved, from EU to CCNR experts, international organisations and industry stakeholders, has become ever stronger. In particular, the European committee for drawing up common standards in the field of inland navigation, CESNI, has been working full speed to update the European standards in inland navigation. On the year where both the CCNR and the Danube Commission celebrate significant anniversaries, it is important to underline the importance of having a unique forum that gathers experts representing the diversity of the European river basins.


As overall transport demands will continue to grow in the years to come, inland navigation has a clear contribution to make. Importantly, it can help offset some of the heaviest societal costs of transports, such as pollution or road congestion and by being the most environmentally friendly transport mode. Thus, it is and will remain a pillar of the EU transport policy and a priority for infrastructure funding, in particular through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) instrument.


However, the inland waterways sector has its own specific challenges to meet. Over the years to come, it will need to engage fullest in its modernisation and integration with the other modes of transport, in order to take a bigger slice from the overall growth of the transport sector.


One of the key evolutions that is currently irreversibly changing our societies and our lives is digitalisation. For the inland waterways transport sector, digitalisation can be a key factor in further improving the quality of services and its integration in the wider logistics chain. DG MOVE has launched a debate for the creation of a Digital Inland Navigation Area (DINA) and will continue to support the development of digital tools for inland navigation.


I wish to thank once again the CCNR Secretariat for their commitment and I very much look forward to continuing our excellent collaboration to address the new and exciting challenges of tomorrow.


Henrik Hololei
Director-General of DG MOVE

A project co-financed byEuropean Commission

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