Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear Mr President, dear Prime Minister,
Let me first wish "Happy 20th anniversary!" to the European Federation of Inland Ports, which has been an active association for the last 20 years in the promotion of inland ports and which has been at the forefront to support intermodality and develop cooperation with maritime ports.
And I would also like to congratulate Hans-Peter Hadorn, the CEO of the Port of Switzerland, who has been elected as the new President of EFIP just today! I wish you every success!
It is an honour to address you today and I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to underline the importance of inland navigation and inland ports in Europe, in particular in the light of the energy and climate challenges we face.
The transport sector is responsible for 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions. And whereas in other sectors we have reduced their emissions, transport has seen an increase by 28% since 1990.
I believe that everybody, independently of his/her political orientation, would agree that transport should be more efficient and cleaner.
Who has not been upset to be trapped in a traffic jam? Who has not worried when alerts are given for smog, ozone and particulate matter? Who has not been concerned when reading about statistics of respiratory diseases, morbidity and mortality attributed to transport?
Last but not least, all indicators point at transport as one of the major sources of greenhouse gases causing important and negative changes of our climate. Who can at least not been questioned about such facts?
Amongst surface transport modes (excluding international maritime transport), the largest energy consumer - and therefore emitter of greenhouse gases on land - is road transport. Over the years, the modal share of road freight transport has increased to reach 76% in 2011; while only 18% of goods had been transported by rail and 6% along inland waterways.
Clearly, there is a striking imbalance towards a mode of transport which is less energy-efficient per tonne/km compared to rail or waterborne transport. As a consequence, this means far too much CO2 produced to transport goods!
Let me remind you that the EU has called for on the need to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, with a reduction target of at least 60% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with respect to 1990 levels. Furthermore the European Parliament forced the reduction of 20% from 1990 to 2020.
As you perfectly know, if such target is to be met, there is a need to shift part of the freight towards more energy-efficient modes. In the 2011 Transport White Paper, the Commission set a target for a shift of 30% of road freight over 300 km towards rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and more than 50% by 2050 facilitated by efficient and green corridors.
This brings me to talk about a very important piece of legislation, on which the European Parliament has worked hard for more than two years (2012-2013), i.e. the Union guidelines for the development of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and the funding instrument to support this legislation: Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
The main objective of TENT-T is to strengthen the social, economic and territorial cohesion of the Union and to contribute to the creation of a single European transport area which is efficient and sustainable.
The first priority is to achieve by 2030 the core network which constitutes the backbone of the development of a sustainable multimodal transport network and which should stimulate the development of the entire comprehensive network. I would like to point out that inland waterways are embedded in six of the nine core network corridors of the TEN-T.
Clearly the key words here are "SUSTAINABLE MULTIMODAL TRANSPORT". It is indeed the only way forward to achieve a modal shift towards more energy-efficient and cleaner transport. Inland ports - in relation to maritime ports - have a fundamental role to play. They can serve as key nodes and gateways in the network. I therefore believe that the Union has made the right political choices in giving more emphasis on inland waterway transport infrastructures and their connection, where possible, to maritime ports and to railways when adopting the new TEN-T guidelines in 2013.
If used at its full potential, inland waterway transport could be a key in Europe to solve congestion and environmental problems generated by goods imported through maritime ports.
I hope that the inland waterway navigation sector, in particular inland ports, will seize the opportunity of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to reinforce and increase their position as essential multimodal nodes in the Union.
One of the key roles of the CEF is to optimise the integration and interconnection of transport modes. Indeed enhancing the interoperability of transport services, while ensuring the accessibility of transport infrastructures, is a key issue across the Single Market.
I would support the view of the European Federation of Inland Ports that transport should combine rail, inland waterways and maritime services and that only the last mile should be made by road to ensure the delivery of goods.
It seems unfortunately that there is a long way ahead to attain this objective. According to a 2010 Eurostat survey, only 5% of internal freight traffic in the Union flows through intermodal routes!
I believe that in order to achieve the challenging objective of "only the last mail by road", inland ports should as a priority work hand-in-hand with maritime ports where the majority of imported goods enter the European Union.
The declaration of cooperation signed in 2007 between the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) and EFIP, as well as the Establishment of the Platform of European Sea and Inland Ports are steps in the right direction of an increased cooperation between sea and inland ports.
But concrete steps, including targets and commercial arrangements should be set in place between sea and inland ports to shift containers to inland waterway transport rather than road transport.
The Port of Rotterdam for example has set modal shift targets to be fulfilled from 2012 to 2035. They want the share of road to go from 54% today to 35% in the future. At the same time, the share of rail should go from 11% to 20% and the share of inland navigation from 35% to 45%.
On this background, the Port of Rotterdam Authority recently signed a Joint Declaration with the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz and the port authorities of Ludwigshafen and Rheinland-Pfalz. They agree to tackle the development of the flows between the port of Rotterdam and Rheinland-Pfalz jointly, to stimulate inland shipping and the use of LNG in freight transport jointly and to work together.
According to this the port of Hamburg also wants to change the modal split between 2012 and 2025: The goods on inland waterways will be constant on just 2%, but the goods on the road will be shifted from 62% to 57% and the goods on rail will increase from 36% to 41%.
During a visitation of the TRAN-Delegation in 2012 at the ports of Maastricht and Liège we recognized another example in the right direction: The effective cooperation between the port of Liège and the port of Antwerp guarantees a seamless system of distribution downstream from the port cargo unloading system.
Inter-connection with railway is also very effective in this respect. Let me mention the inland port of Duisburg. Last August, the first railway crane with an impressive annual capacity of 90.000 loading units began full operation. I understand that a second identical crane should be installed by the end of this year.
I would like also to stress that the TEN-T guidelines fully encompass the protection of the environment and of biodiversity. It is, indeed, of utmost importance to ensure the right balance between environmental protection and development for inland waterways with better safeguards for sensitive sites and habitats, particularly free-flowing waterway sections.
However, as I see it, inland navigation is not as green as it could be!
The renewal of the fleet is rather slow - meaning that a significant number of vessels and barges of over 30 years of age are still in use - with the obvious consequence that available clean technologies are not used to their full capacity.
Furthermore, I would like to point out that the legislation is more lax with regard to emission standards, in particular NOx and particulate matter, from barges compared to other diesel machines and road vehicles. I believe that legislation should change to ensure a real level playing field amongst transport modes.
I would like therefore to plead for a rapid modernisation of the inland waterway fleet, especially by retrofitting and its adaptation to reflect technical progress.
It is urgent to improve the energy-efficiency of the fleet and its environmental performance. Alternative clean fuels could also be used, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), to reduce emissions.
In this respect, I would point out that in its first reading of the European Commission's proposal for a directive laying down technical requirements for inland waterway vessels, the European Parliament has introduced an amendment with the view of mandating the Commission to adopt delegated acts to introduce technical requirements for vessels powered by LNG.
I would like to encourage inland ports to ensure as soon as possible the availability of alternative clean fuels, in order to reduce emissions.
In maritime transport, we have already set 2020 as a clear deadline to bring down sulphur emissions in Europe. The “Sulphur Emissions Control Areas” even go ahead by 2015.
I am pleased to see that the European Commission envisages within Horizon 2020 to provide funding to support research and innovation related to inland navigation. In particular the Commission envisages supporting a massive introduction of a range of alternative energy concepts and technologies for a more energy efficient energy use and emission reductions. This also includes retrofitting solutions.
I am also satisfied to see a priority to develop testing and monitoring regimes for the application of strict emission limits.
I am, however, disappointed that the Commission does not intend to allocate funds for the development of 'river adapted ships for sustainable inland navigation (RASSIN)'. I indeed think that navigation has important impacts on the environment and on biodiversity due notably to embankments, rectification of streams, locks and dredging.
I therefore think it is for the vessels to be adapted to rivers rather than rivers to barges with increasing capacity. Ports should also adapt their infrastructure bearing in mind that nature should be preserved.
For a negative example of inland waterways, I want to cite Volker Hauft, the german minister of transport from the CDU 30 years ago: The canal of Rhine-Main-Danube is the most stupid project since the tower of Babel.
I am deeply convinced that there is a need for an in-depth reflexion on the inland waterway transport in the Union. The Commission has initiated this reflexion with NAIADES. But, I do not think that this reflexion goes far enough and quickly enough. I do not think that the actions envisaged are strong enough to stimulate the inland waterway sector, including inland ports.
I think that for example more concrete steps could be done to accelerate the development of the River Information Services to make it an effective tool - beyond traffic management - to optimise intermodal logistic chains.
I also think that more could be done to give inland ports in cities a more prominent role to facilitate mobility and reduce congestion. I really would enjoy having the opportunity to take a boat - with my bicycle! - to avoid congested streets.
To conclude: I am convinced that the main inland waterways and inland ports have an important role to play to ensure de-carbonisation of transport. There is an enormous potential to exploit in the Union, where inland ports in connection with maritime ports should constitute the main nodes of a truly sustainable multimodal transport. This role can only be fully successful if investments are made to exactly meet demands and environmental concerns are fully taken into account. Resources - both financial and environmental - are scarces; let's think and assess all impacts before engaging into main infrastructure works!
Again: Happy 20th anniversary!
Thank you for your attention!