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  • According to the Eurostat Reference Manual of Inland Waterways Transport Statistics (Eurostat, Reference Manual of Inland Waterway transport Statistics, Version 9.1 April 2018, sections 4.1.6 and 5.2:, “fluvio-maritime transport” consists in “a transport operation partly by inland waterways (IWW) and partly by sea, without transhipment. It can be operated by inland waterway vessels or seagoing ships. Any inland waterway vessel undertaking such transport will need to have the appropriate authorisation permitting it to operate at sea.” The same definition is proposed in the 5th edition of the Glossary for transport statistics (Glossary for transport statistics 5th Edition 2019:, where an alternative terminology is also used: sea-river transport. The term river-sea transport is also commonly used (E.g. EMMA project Strengthening inland navigation and river-sea-shipping in Europe and the Baltic sea region). Finally, in Sweden and Finland, this type of transport is referred to as lake-sea shipping. For the purpose of this report, the terminology “river-sea transport” will be used.
  • Based on this definition, two types of river-sea transport will be analysed in this report:
    – River-sea transport performed by seagoing ships adapted to navigate on inland waterways (river-sea ships) (see chapter 2).
    – River-sea transport performed by an inland vessel adapted to navigate at sea up to a certain point at sea (Also known as fluvio-maritime or sea-river vessels in the Glossary for transport statistics 5th Edition 2019). The specific case of Belgium and France will be addressed in this report (see chapter 3). In Belgium, the term estuary vessels/traffic is used to refer to this specific case.
  • The objective of this report will be to improve knowledge and information about river-sea transport in Europe. It is worth noting that river-sea transport was also addressed in the 2013 annual market observation report (Pages 81-93: In addition, a workshop with the main actors for the river-sea transport sector was organised in September 2019 to gain some additional insights into the river-sea market in Europe. All the presentations made during this workshop are available in English on the CCNR website:



  • As there are few statistics on river-sea passenger transport in Europe, this report will focus on river-sea goods transport. There is no harmonised data reporting in place at EU level on this and Eurostat does not have a dedicated data collection for river-sea transport.
  • Therefore, data in this report were mainly gathered directly from national statistical offices, other national statistical sources and stakeholders. These national offices partly apply different methodologies for data collection, resulting in some river-sea transport that is reported in maritime statistics or in IWW statistics or both. However, given the low volumes of river-sea traffic compared to total maritime or IWW transport volumes, double counting (i.e. reporting statistics on both the maritime and IWW database) is tolerated. In addition, the definition of river-sea transport from a statistical point of view may also vary between Member States.
  • The example of the Kiel Canal, which connects the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel through Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany, is relevant in that regard as it will appear in both maritime and IWW sets of statistics.
  • Indeed, in German statistics, the Kiel Canal is registered as an IWW and a maritime waterway. Transport from one end of the Kiel Canal (Kiel or Brunsbüttel) to a maritime port, for instance in Lithuania (Klaipeda) or in the Netherlands (Rotterdam), transit through the Kiel Canal and transport from one port on the Kiel Canal to another maritime port outside the Kiel Canal will be recorded as maritime transport. However, this last case could be considered as river-sea transport if the definition from the Eurostat Reference Manual of Inland Waterways Transport Statistics is applied.
  • The methodology for reporting river-sea transport statistics was discussed at several maritime and IWW working group meetings within Eurostat.
  • Initially, Eurostat recommended national statistical offices to report on river-sea transport according to “type of water”. In other words, if transport takes place on IWW it should be reported in the IWW statistics and if transport takes place on maritime waters it should be reported in the maritime statistics.
  • In the Reference Manual on Inland Waterways Transport Statistics, Eurostat recommends reporting river-sea transport depending on the “type of vessel”, in other words, if river-sea transport is performed:
    1. by an inland vessel, it should be reported in the IWW statistics and not the maritime statistics;
    2. by a seagoing ship, it should be reported in the maritime statistics and not the IWW statistics.
  • However, if information regarding the type of vessel is unavailable, related information (such as port of loading/ unloading) could be used to determine whether river-sea transport is likely to be carried out by IWW vessels or seagoing ships.
  • If necessary, and in order to compile relevant and coherent IWW statistics at national level, specific cases of river-sea transport performed by seagoing ships could be included in both the maritime and the IWW data reported to Eurostat. However, any such deviations from the main recommendations in points 1 and 2 should be clearly communicated to Eurostat in order to be specified in the metadata of the IWW statistics. Today, some objections to these proposed recommendations still exist. For instance, if this methodology was applied in France, most of river-sea transport would be recorded in the maritime statistics.
  • It is worth highlighting that most of the statistical data analysed in this report relate to situations where river-sea transport is performed by seagoing ships. Indeed, there is less statistical data available regarding inland vessels at sea as there are only a few places where seagoing inland vessels are in operation, which are mentioned in this report and for which available data are presented.
  • As consistent data is not available at EU level, data were collected from national statistics, and a country-by-country analysis has therefore been made in this report. The methodology applied to calculate river-sea goods transport per country is explained in each relevant chapter. The degree of comparability of the results analysed in this report might be slightly impacted by such discrepancies.
  • Finally, for several countries analysed in this report, statistics are derived from inland navigation databases, which shows that the practice applied in some national statistical offices include river-sea-transport as part of inland waterway transport (IWT).