• According to Eurostat data, there are 5,606 IWW freight companies with a total employment of 23,170 persons. The geographical scope for these numbers is the EU plus Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland. Companies in the Rhine region (the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland) account for 87% of the total number of companies and for 75% of the total number of persons employed.
• In the geographical zone defined above, there are 4,211 IWW passenger transport companies with a total employment of 21,023 persons. Employment in the passenger sector decreased by 9% in 2020 compared to 2019, due to the pandemic crisis. This stands in contrast to IWW freight transport, where employment increased by 3.6% in 2020 compared to 2019.
• While employment and company numbers in IWW freight transport are slightly higher than in IWW passenger transport, the financial turnover in freight transport exceeds that in passenger transport many times over. For the Rhine countries, the net financial turnover in IWW freight transport is around 5.5 billion euros (2020), compared to an estimated 1.3 billion euros for IWW passenger transport (2020).

 

    FIGURE 1: DEVELOPMENT OF EMPLOYMENT IN GOODS AND IN PASSENGER TRANSPORT IN THE INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT SECTOR IN EUROPE (NUMBER OF PERSONS)


    Source: Eurostat [sbs_na_1a_se_r2]

 

COMPANIES AND EMPLOYMENT IN GOODS TRANSPORT

  • According to the latest Eurostat figures, 5,606 IWW freight transport companies are active in Europe (EU plus Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland). Around 87% of them (4,891 in absolute numbers) are registered in Rhine countries (the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland). In the Netherlands alone, 3,303 IWW freight companies are counted, which represents 59% of the total number in Europe and 68% of the number of companies in Rhine countries.
  • In the Danube region, freight companies are on average larger, with more employed persons than in western Europe.51 This explains the rather small number of companies in Danube countries (212), representing a share of only 4% within all European IWW freight companies.
  •  

    FIGURE 2: NUMBER OF COMPANIES IN IWW GOODS TRANSPORT IN EUROPE*


    Sources: Eurostat [sbs_na_1a_se_r2] and Federal Statistical Office (CH)
    * Data refer to 2019.

     

  • The number of employed persons in freight transport includes self-employed, helping family members and employees. The total number of this variable stood at 23,170 in 2020.52 Rhine countries account for 75%, Danube countries for 15% and companies in countries outside the Rhine and Danube regions for 10%.
  •  

    FIGURE 3: NUMBER OF PERSONS EMPLOYED IN IWW GOODS TRANSPORT IN EUROPE #


    Source: Eurostat [sbs_na_1a_se_r2]
    # Data refer to the year 2020 except for countries denoted with *, for which data refer to the year 2019. It should be noted that figures obtained from national labour market institutions or from other national offices might differ from figures obtained from Eurostat, due to different statistical labour market concepts. However, for cross-country comparisons, Eurostat is treated as the preferred source because data are harmonised across countries and are thus comparable.


 
 

COMPANIES AND EMPLOYMENT IN PASSENGER TRANSPORT

  • IWW passenger companies in Europe (4,211 companies in total) are active in three different segments: river cruises, day trips on rivers, canals and lakes, ferries for commuter and tourist transportation. The NACE sector H50.30 with the title ‘Inland passenger water transport’ forms the underlying basis for the Eurostat data presented, and it entails all the above-mentioned activities.
  • This broad scope of the NACE sector H50.30 is also the reason why Italy stands on the first position regarding the number of IWW passenger companies. Italy has many lakes in the northern part of the country, with many day trip vessels. The numerous canal boats in Venice play an important role as well. Passenger transport on rivers such as the Po, however, is currently not very high, due to many shallow river sections on the Po. Dutch companies are in second position. The number of Dutch companies is high because of the numerous amount of small day trip vessel and ferry companies in Dutch cities.
  •  

    FIGURE 4: NUMBER OF IWW PASSENGER TRANSPORT COMPANIES IN EUROPE *


    Sources: Eurostat [sbs_na_1a_se_r2] and Federal Statistical Office (CH)
    * Data refer to 2019.

     

  • The total number of persons employed in European IWW passenger transport amounted to 21,023 in 2020 and was therefore lower than the employment level in freight transport. In previous years, the number of persons employed in IWW passenger transport was higher than in IWW freight transport. The explanation for this change is the Covid crisis, which led to a sharp decrease in passenger transport and had an impact on employment. The decrease in employment was 9% in 2020 (year-on-year-rate compared to 2019), based on Eurostat data.
  •  

    FIGURE 5: NUMBER OF PERSONS EMPLOYED IN IWW PASSENGER TRANSPORT IN EUROPE #


    Source: Eurostat [sbs_na_1a_se_r2]
    # Data refer to 2020 except for cases denoted with * (2019) and ** (2018).

     

  • Around 63% of all persons employed in EU inland waterway passenger transport are employed in Rhine countries. The share of Danube countries amounts to 9%. All other European regions taken together have a share of 28%.

TURNOVER

    TURNOVER IN IWW FREIGHT TRANSPORT

     

  • IWW freight transport companies in the EU (plus Switzerland) generated a turnover of approximately 6.057 billion euro in 2020.
  • IWW companies registered in Rhine countries accounted for 5.502 billion euro. These figures are valid for the year 2020 except for France (2018) and the Netherlands (2019).
  •  

    TABLE 1: NET TURNOVER IN IWW FREIGHT TRANSPORT IN RHINE COUNTRIES *

     Net turnover in million euro
    Dutch companies 3,314
    German companies1,525
    French companies 397
    Belgian companies135
    Swiss companies131
    Rhine countries5,502

    Sources: Eurostat [sbs_na_1a_se_r2], Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (NL)
    * All values refer to 2020, except for French companies (2018) and Dutch companies (2019). The value for Dutch companies is estimated, based on information from CBS that 92% of total turnover in IWT is freight transport turnover.

     

  • The turnover generated in inland waterway freight transport companies registered in Danube countries amounted to 398 million euro in 2020.
  •  

    TABLE 2: NET TURNOVER IN IWW FREIGHT TRANSPORT IN DANUBE COUNTRIES IN 2020

     Net turnover in million euro
    Serbian companies109
    Romanian companies107
    Slovakian companies80
    Hungarian companies47
    Bulgarian companies29
    Austrian companies23
    Croatian companies3
    Danube countries398

    Sources: Eurostat [sbs_na_1a_se_r2]
     

  • Turnover of companies active in IWW freight transport and registered in European regions outside the Rhine and Danube region amounted to 157 million euro in 2020.
  •  

    TURNOVER IN IWW PASSENGER TRANSPORT

     

  • For IWW passenger transport companies in the EU (plus Switzerland), total turnover cannot be indicated due to many missing values in the Eurostat SBS database.
  • For Rhine countries, values were partly available and partly estimated, and point to around 1.217 billion euro of financial net turnover in 2020.
  •  

    TABLE 3: NET TURNOVER IN IWW PASSENGER TRANSPORT IN RHINE COUNTRIES IN 2020 *

     Net turnover in million Euro
    Swiss companies521
    German companies301
    Dutch companies **288
    French companies #87
    Belgian companies20
    Rhine countries1.217

    Sources: Eurostat [sbs_na_1a_se_r2], Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (NL)
    * All values for 2020, except for Dutch companies (2019).
    ** Value for Dutch companies is estimated, based on information from CBS that 8% of total turnover in IWT is related to passenger transport.
    # Value for French companies is estimated, based on the reduction in the INSEE index of turnover in 2020 compared to 2018 for France (https://www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/serie/010543475#Tableau)

     

  • For companies in Danube countries, turnover data show the following values for 2020: Austria (49 million euro), Romania (8 million euro), Serbia (2 million euro), Slovakia (1 million euro), Croatia (0.4 million euro). Missing data in the Eurostat database for Bulgaria and Hungary is the reason why a tabular overview cannot be given.
  • The lower turnover values of companies in the Danube region can be explained by two main factors. First, the lower wage level in these countries must be considered. According to Eurostat SBS database, Romania, Serbia and Croatia are among the four countries with the lowest average annual personnel costs per employee in European IWT (the fourth country is Bulgaria, for which turnover data are missing). Lower wages imply lower total costs, especially in passenger transport which is quite labour-intensive. Lower costs, in return, imply lower price levels and therefore also lower turnover figures.
  • A second explanation that can be considered is the lower overall activity of companies established in the Danube region in passenger transport. In river cruising for example, the activity is mainly carried out by companies from western Europe, also on the Danube.
  • Two countries in Europe outside the Rhine and Danube region with a considerable level of turnover are Italy (302 million euro in 2020) and Sweden (98 million euro in 2020). Together with Portugal (19 million euro in 2020) and Spain (13 million euro in 2020), this group of countries had a share of 23% of all IWW passenger transport turnover in Europe in the year 2020.

 

BANKRUPTCIES

 

  • Data about bankruptcies in IWT are not available at Eurostat level. They are only available for the Netherlands at the level of the Dutch national statistical office (CBS).
  •  

    FIGURE 6: NUMBER OF BANKRUPTCIES IN THE INLAND NAVIGATION SECTOR IN THE NETHERLANDS


    Source: Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (NL)
     

  • The data show only a minor uptake in the number of bankruptcies for passenger transport in 2020 and 2021. For goods transport companies, the data do not indicate any impact of the Covid crisis.
  • One reason for this result might consist in the state aid schemes that were introduced by governments in 2020. In the Netherlands, independent entrepreneurs had access to income support, as well as to a loan for working capital at an interest rate below the market level.53
  • Next to public stakeholders, banks helped to maintain the IWT sector financially afloat. The suspension of loan payments for inland barging companies that were fundamentally ‘healthy’ but in financial distress due to Covid, was one such measure that was taken in early 2020 by several banks in the Netherlands.54