During a meeting in the margins of the EU Transport Council, the Ministers of the Danube Riparian States today endorsed the Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its Navigable Tributaries and pledged to implement it as soon as possible.
The Ministers of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina signed the Conclusions. Serbia indicated it will join its signature to the conclusions at a later stage. Hungary did not yet sign the Conclusions but expressed a message of support and left open the perspective of joining the conclusions later
The current lack of fairway maintenance on the Danube is a pressing issue for the inland waterway sector and the industry using it. The Master Plan was developed in the framework of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). It identifies critical maintenance locations which currently limit the navigability of the Danube and analyses the underlying issues and the financial needs required to resolve them.
The Masterplan concludes that additional investments of about 85 Mio EUR would be sufficient to reach recommended levels of service, i.e. 2.50 m fairway depth at low navigable water level along the majority of Danube sections (2.0 m for the German section Straubing-Vilshofen). Additional annual operational costs would amount to about 8 Mio EUR. Compared to the magnitude of many other transport infrastructure projects, this is a rather modest sum. The European Commission has also signaled its willingness to offer support through EU co-funding.
The majority of investments are needed for dredging equipment, fairway marking and riverbed surveying. Investments are to be carried out in full compliance with EU environmental legislation, thus ensuring respect for biodiversity and integrated water management
Ministers agreed to establish national roadmaps which identify individual actions, responsibilities, funding resources and intermediate milestones for the implementation of these measures and to communicate these roadmaps by 30 June 2015 to the relevant coordinating bodies. They further confirmed their intention to allocate the necessary national budgets as referred to in the Master Plan and stressed the importance of making use of EU co-financing opportunities.