It is with great pleasure that the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) presents its 2020 European Inland Navigation Market Observation report, in partnership with and supported by the European Commission.

The new Market Observation report highlights the key results for the year 2019 in relation to various aspects of European inland navigation, in particular, inland waterway freight transport on the main waterways in Europe, inland waterway passenger transport, inland waterway traffic in ports, transport companies, freight rates, the cargo fleet evolution, employment and river cruises. The report also describes the evolution of water levels and navigation conditions on the Rhine and the Danube.

Although this report relates mostly to the market developments in 2019, it was of great importance to place a strong focus as well this year on short and longer-term outlooks for our sector, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis. This is reflected in the 2020 report, which gives a detailed short-term outlook on the impact of the pandemic both for cargo and passenger transport. The report also analyses the longer-term outlook for major cargo segments such as agricultural products, food/feedstuffs, iron ore and steel, coal, building materials, chemicals, petroleum products and containers. This was an opportunity to look at the expected impacts of major transformations of society in our sector, such as energy transition, and the possible opportunities that come with them.

The Danube, Mosel and Sava Commissions shared with our organisation all their relevant statistical and market information specific to their river basins. This year, the report presents for the first time, information about inland waterway traffic regarding the Sava river basin. This allowed us to expand further the statistical sources of this report for specific geographical areas. My wish is that these fruitful collaborations with river commissions can continue and deepen in the future. I would like to thank them warmly for their contributions.

Representatives of the sector, in particular the European Barge Union (EBU), the European Skippers Organisation (ESO), and the Centraal Bureau voor de Rijn-en Binnenvaart (CBRB) also brought their most valuable advice and expertise together with important comments and recommendations.

I also value our excellent cooperation with Eurostat, national statistical offices, seaports and inland ports, as well as national and regional waterway and shipping administrations, without whom the collection of large and detailed datasets would not have been possible. As was the case last year, the corporation of inland tanker barge owners (CITBO) delivered raw data on spot market freight rates and time charter renting prices for liquid cargo transport in the FARAG region (Vlissingen-Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam-Ghent). This allowed an analysis to be included on the evolution of freight rates for liquid cargo in this important region for European inland waterway transport. Data on dry cargo freight rates were collected and delivered by the research company Panteia.

The information on river cruises is based on a collaboration with the sector expert Mr Arnulf Hader, and with the research company SeaConsult, whose data and information proved once again to be very valuable.

Furthermore, I would like to thank the authors of this report from the CCNR Secretariat and all the other contributors involved in the elaboration of the report, despite the many constraints caused by the COVID-19 crisis in the first half of 2020.

Last but not least, I am very happy that the European Coordinator for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor, Paweł Wojciechowski, gladly accepted to write the next foreword of this year’s report, given the stronger ties we have built over the last years for the benefit of the further development of inland waterway transport along this corridor.

We hope that our report will once more serve as a tool to enable strategic decisions for the benefit of European inland waterway transport.

While it has always been the tradition to wish you a pleasant reading of our Market Observation reports, I would also like, in the current circumstances, to express my best wishes to you and yours, hoping very much that our sector’s activity will quickly recover and thrive in the best possible conditions.


Bruno Georges
CCNR Secretary General


It is an honour for me to address you on the publication of the 2020 European Inland Navigation Market Observation report, presented by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR).

It has been five years since the European Commission designated me as the European Coordinator for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor. I quickly established an excellent working and personal relationship with the CCNR.

Inland navigation plays a crucial role in the Rhine-Alpine Corridor. Accounting for 25% of the corridor’s length, it carries more than 50% of the corridor’s international freight transport. The corridor does not only concern the Rhine. The Neckar and – partly – the Moselle are two other important elements of the inland waterway corridor network.

The inland waterway infrastructure on the corridor is well developed. For the most part, it already meets the criteria established in the European Union guidelines for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). However, challenges remain, notably with regard to the target draught of 2.5 metres. This has consequences for an extended section of the river, in particular in periods of extreme drought and low water, such as those experienced in recent years. In my fourth Corridor Work Plan, to be published later this year, I have laid emphasis on the need to enhance the fairway depth on the Middle Rhine. This should increase the reliability and improve navigation conditions.
The Rhine-Alpine Corridor is, by definition, multimodal. Multimodality plays a crucial role in view of its further development and, in this regard, I would like to underline the importance of inland ports. Tri-modal terminals connecting inland waterways, rail and road, as well as bi-modal barge-road terminals, support the functioning of the corridor.

Ensuring compliance of the inland navigation infrastructure with the TEN-T standards will allow us to keep the dominant position of this mode of transport on the corridor. This is even more important now as the general policy context is evolving. Sustainability goals and climate change mitigation and adaptation are key drivers of the EU’s infrastructure policy. Last year the European Commission presented the European Green Deal, with the ambition for Europe to be the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050, with a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It is of utmost importance to strengthen our commitment to decarbonisation by promoting projects that shift transport from road to inland waterways and rail.

The new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for 2021-2027 will be instrumental in delivering on the Green Deal objectives. The vast majority of CEF supported actions will relate to sustainable modes of transport, including inland waterways. The CEF will also support intermodality and the deployment of alternative fuels, thus making the transport system more efficient and resilient.

The corridor concept is based on the cooperation between all stakeholders. This applies equally at the level of inland navigation. I have had many opportunities to meet and talk to sector representatives, including inland waterway managers, port managing authorities, barge owners and operators. I believe that cooperation and participation of all these stakeholders need to be enhanced and supported, in order to ensure the positive impact of the corridor activities. Only by jointly concentrating our efforts on common goals, can we ensure the sustainable development of the corridor.

Over recent years, we have experienced more and more the low water level phenomenon on the Rhine. It has had, and will in all likelihood continue to have, an impact on inland waterway transport. This year we are facing a crisis of another dimension, the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-term impact of which is difficult to predict. However, we must face this together and find jointly appropriate solutions.

I have always found the market reports and quarterly statistics provided by the CCNR very useful. I join the CCNR’s Secretary General Bruno Georges in wishing you a pleasant reading of the 2020 Annual Report.


Paweł Wojciechowski
European Coordinator for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor