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DAPhNE: final milestones of a successful transnational project

Monday, 05 August 2019 09:42
After 30 months of intense work, the DAPhNE consortium met for the last time on 12 June 2019 at thinkport Vienna during the DAPhNE Steering Committee Meeting and Project Final Public Event to share the most important success stories achieved during the project implementation period. The event brought together 60 participants (industry representatives, port authorities, NGOs, universities) interested to debate and discuss on Danube ports development opportunities. Important progress has been recorded and disseminated in the context of all content-related project activities which touch on topics such as port legislation & funding, port administration & management, port development as well as port strategy & port network formation.


Ms Ruxandra Florescu in her position as Project Manager of the DAPhNE project introduced the main achievements of the DAPhNE consortium corresponding to the 7 main action areas: fragmented legislation, inefficient port administration processes and procedures, lack of eco-efficient port business strategies, shortcomings in the use of public funding, insufficient/deteriorated infrastructure, lack of qualified personnel, limited use of new technologies. Among the results emphasised are: series of national workshops on topics like capacity building and HR development, legal framework  and port funding opportunities, international workshops on port management modes and port processes, high visibility events  - Port Policy Days and Port Info Days, guidelines for industrial development in ports, public-private partnership models for Danube ports, innovation trends and new market opportunities, Port Community System application developed and tested in 4 ports, Danube Ports SWOT analysis, Strategy and Action Plan and Danube Ports Network (DPN) setup and enlargement. For details you may refer to the attached presentation.

Ms Monika Thury from the Hungarian Federation of Danube Ports responsible for conducting the overall project communication and dissemination activities presented a summary of all activities meant to promote the project and its results to the wider audience. All these perfectly coordinated activities can be found described in the attached presentation.

Mr Oliver Schauer from the University of Upper Austria talked about the importance of developing the human factor, as skilled and motivated work force contributes greatly to the overall productivity of ports. The study conducted in the framework of the DAPhNE project shows that the majority of the employees in Danube inland ports are male and have a school leaving qualification. The majority of port employees employed by port authorities participating in the study are older than 36 years entailing the risk of shortage of staff in inland ports in the next decades due to the retirement of current employees. In the future, experts from the inland port sector expect a balance in terms of gender in inland ports. Results show that in the future further training measures are required by inland ports. In addition, measures to promote inland ports as an attractive work place to young people and women are required. Details can be found in the attached presentation.

Ms Denitsa Mateva representing the Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Company touched upon topics dealing with improving and harmonizing port administration processes and port management models. The conclusion was that there is no general solution applicable to every inland port because ports have different background conditions. However, the project partners dealing with these subject have identified and recommended some good practices which can improve port operations / port management models Among few examples worth mentioning are the smartPORT concept from Hanburg, the model of thinkport in the Port of Vienna, the successful concession example from Bulgaria or the management model applied by smaller, private-owner ports from Paks (HU). More details on the above mentioned and further recommended port management models and guidelines for implementation can be found in the report Recommendations for port management as well as in the attached presentation.

Mr Werner Auer (Port of Enns) and Ms Natasa Osrecki (RGO Communications) reported on their experience of dealing with a modular Port Community System application from the side of a port having implemented it and from the side of the software developer, respectively. A modular Port Community System was implemented within the framework of Activity 5.3 of the DAPhNE project and 3 modules (core module - user management & data layer, cargo, tracking and tracing) have been developed and were tested within the foreseen pilot action. For the participating Danube ports (Enns, Bratislava, Novi Sad and Smederevo), this provided a first-hands experience towards digitalisation and an affordable alternative to commercial Port Community Systems, normally designed for large maritime ports. The pilot action has started in October 2018 and lasted until March 2019. Details on the their findings as well as an insight on the lessons learnt can be found the present presentation.

Mr Sasa Jovanovic (iC Consulenten) introduced the “crown” of the entire project, the Danube Ports Development Strategy and Action. This Strategy, covering the period of 8 years (2020-2027) is divided into an analytical part and a part containing individual strategic objectives and implementation measures for each objective. The SWOT analysis of the Danube region port industry, being an analytical part of the Strategy, was performed using a triple layer – that of individual ports participating in the analysis, national port industries and an entire Danube region port industry. A total of 21 ports in the Danube region were subject to the SWOT analysis. Based on these 21 SWOT analyses, country wide SWOT analyses of port industries in Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria were elaborated, reflecting the current situation f the respective port industries, taking into account the internal strengths and weaknesses and external threats and opportunities. From the Strategy’s point of view, it is very important to avoid comparing the Danube ports with the Rhine ports. Most of the accessible development strategies of EU inland ports are based on the challenges, issues, trade patterns and transportation geography of inland ports of the Western Europe and focus mostly on container traffic to/from main gateway ports in the North Sea. Since The Strategy itself will be used in the updates of the national and individual port strategies as an inventory of objectives and measures applicable in all ports as per their own needs. Moreover, it will be a source of ideas for the future project pipeline of the Danube Ports Network. Details can be found in the attached presentation.

Ms Janeta Toma representing the Danube Ports Network Technical Secretariat and Ms Lucia Karpatyova from Pro Danube Management talked about the upcoming activities to be organised in the framework of the DPN ( and about potential project applications in the field of digitalisation. For details, please refer to the presentation of Ms Toma and the presentation of Ms Karpatyova.

Mr Manfred Seitz as overall Project Coordinator congratulated the DAPhNE consortium for their excellent work and mentioned that DAPhNE project created a strong basis, knowledge wise and contact wise, which will continue to foster highly appreciated projects and initiatives for the IWT sector with the dedicated support of DPN (Danube Ports Network).

DANTE: the closing event of a transnational success story

Monday, 05 August 2019 09:12
Identifying, mitigating and abolishing administrative burdens and harmonising bureaucratic procedures were key elements that defined the last 30 months of the fruitful transnational partnership in the framework of the DANTE project. The final event of DANTE was held on 29 May 2019 at the premises of the Danube Commission. The event was attended by representatives of the European Commission (DG MOVE), the Danube Commission, the Joint Secretariat of the Danube Transnational Programme, national administrations of the Danube countries and last but not least, transnational representatives of the IWT sector.


One of the major highlights of the final event was the official release of the DANTE brochure. The brochure summarizes the main achievements and conclusions of the project and is available for download here.

The DANTE project resulted in meaningful steps forward in further strengthening the transnational collaboration process between public and private entities to mitigate and abolish the most common bureaucratic procedures in a well-defined and coordinated manner. The know-how of the stakeholders paired with the capacity of policy makers to implement the identified solutions paved the way to successfully abolish administrative burdens and to make important steps forward in better integrating IWT in the European intermodal transport and logistics chains. The "Danube IWT Administration Strategy and Action Plan" plays in this regard a vital role, as it identifies the major transnational administrative burdens that hinder the development of IWT at its full potential. The document furthermore proposes concrete strategic actions and measures to overcome them and make IWT a more competitive mode of transport.

Continuing the intercountry collaboration after the official closure of the project is of outmost importance to further strengthen the excellent results achieved so far by DANTE. This will happen in the framework of the DANTE Facilitation and Monitoring Platform.

GRENDEL: first public consultation and first State Aid Scheme Model workshop held at the premises of the Danube Commission in Budapest

Monday, 05 August 2019 09:02
The Danube Commission hosted on 26 March 2019 two major events in the framework of the GRENDEL project. Whereas the topics of the first public consultation evolved around the CESNI and the Danube Commission’s work programme related to technological and educational standards, the aim of the workshop was to gather first-hand inputs from stakeholders and the responsible state authorities in the elaboration process of a harmonised State Aid Scheme at transnational level (“Model State Aid Scheme”). The series of public consultations held in the framework of the GRENDEL project are an instrument for initiation and revision of policy frameworks at both national and European levels in order to ensure favourable legal preconditions for the overall modernisation process of the Danube fleet. Furthermore, this first public consultation, by reuniting Danube fleet operators with the relevant state authorities, sets the ground for subsequent discussions and recommendations, ensuring that vital interests of Danube fleet operators are collected systematically and are well represented in the on-going work of regulatory bodies. The outcomes of the public consultations will be summarised into position papers and presented to the national/European policy makers and experts for policy and regulatory activities.


The second part of the working day was dedicated to a widely neglected issue in the Danube region: the creation of an efficient funding instrument to support vessel operators in modernising their fleet. Considering the potential of inland waterway transport (IWT) in significantly reducing road congestion and air pollutant emissions, adapting the Danube fleet to innovative technologies is no longer an option, but a must. However, investing in a fleet that is on average more than 40 years old represents a huge financial challenge for vessel operators. Therefore, creating a dedicated model State Aid Scheme that supports investments in the Danube fleet is necessary to enable IWT to compete with other modes of transport.

Presumably based on 3 pillars – greening of the fleet, multimodality and safety – the model State Aid Scheme delivered by the GRENDEL project will have the potential to significantly boost the attractiveness of the IWT sector by better responding to industry needs, making businesses more profitable and increasing the overall economic efficiency of IWT.

The main conclusion of both events was that time is running out, as the general condition of the Danube fleet is rather poor. Investing in the proper maintenance of the river by ensuring uninterrupted navigability periods and greening the fleet are necessary measures to efficiently integrate IWT in the intermodal supply chain and to respond to the emission requirements set by the European legislation.

DAPhNE: first know-how transfer event dedicated to port digitalisation hosted by DPN

Monday, 05 August 2019 08:48
Under the title “Danube Ports in the digital age: challenges & opportunities”, the event featured 14 speakers that ranged from leading experts in ICT, digital transformation and innovation in maritime and inland ports and navigation, to transport, logistics, supply chain and automation experts, to EU transport policy and funding experts. The conference highlighted current EU policies and legislative initiatives to support sea & inland ports digitalisation, showcased how first-movers have responded to the digital challenge and driven the needed change at port organisation and port community level i.e the case of Port of Barcelona, the Port of Rotterdam model, the HAROPA (Le Havre – Rouen - Paris) and the Upper Rhine smart corridor approaches etc.

New technologies are rapidly changing the transport and logistics landscape, hence requesting all transport, logistics and supply chains actors, including inland and sea ports, to be more innovative and agile. Danube ports cannot ignore the rising tide of global digitalisation and port authorities need to prepare for and invest now in their digital future. However, it is often unclear what “digital” means for a port organisation, its core business and the port community at large. Port digitalization it is in fact a long-term process which requires port organisations and port stakeholders alike to undergo continuous structural, functional and strategic transformations.


Are ports in the Danube Region prepared for such a transformational journey? What are the pre-requisites and the capabilities needed to enable such a process? What is the role of a port authority to leading such a process and foster a digital culture in its own organisation and at port community level?

To answer these questions and kick-start a more structured debate on port digitalisation, relevant digital trends & technologies in the port domain, the Danube Ports Network has organised within the context of the DAPhNE Project its first thematic conference dedicated to port digitalisation.

Under the title “Danube Ports in the digital age: challenges & opportunities”, the event featured 14 speakers that ranged from leading experts in ICT, digital transformation and innovation in maritime and inland ports and navigation, to transport, logistics, supply chain and automation experts, to EU transport policy and funding experts.

The conference highlighted current EU policies and legislative initiatives to support sea & inland ports digitalisation, showcased how first-movers have responded to the digital challenge and driven the needed change at port organisation and port community level i.e the case of Port of Barcelona, the Port of Rotterdam model, the HAROPA (Le Havre – Rouen - Paris) and the Upper Rhine smart corridor approaches etc..  Furthermore, the conference gave insight into ongoing port digitalisation projects and initiatives -- illustrating how modern communication technologies can help to sustainably optimise the processes and operations of river and sea ports. Last but not least, participants got to experience cutting-edge technologies and innovative digital  solutions for integrated port traffic management, Port Community System and Supply Chain Route Planning during an interactive online workshop run by the Port of Rotterdam.