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 09:02The 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.