On 23 November 2017, Pro Danube International together with MEP Ana-Claudia Tapardel organized the second edition of the “Danube Transport Day” in the European Parliament, an event dedicated to the promotion of Danube transportation as vital element of the economic development of the Danube region.
The event brought together high level representatives from the European Commission (Violeta Bulc – Commissioner for Transport, Maja Bakran-Marcich – Deputy Director General DG MOVE, Marco Onida – EUSDR Coordinator, DG REGIO), from the European Parliament (MEPs Gesine Meissner, Viorica Dancila, Pavel Telicka, Peter Kouroumbashev), from the Danube States (Felix Stroe – Minister of Transport of Romania, Veljko Kovacevic – Assistant Minister of Transport of Serbia, Juraj Mery – Gen. Dir. PM, Ministry of Transport of Slovakia, Ionut Pucheanu – Mayor of Galati, Romania, Maria Tzankova – Association of Danube River Municipalities), high level industry leaders (Thomas Maaßen – Rhenus Logistics, Antonio Stoean – TTS Group, Radu Comanici – Danubia Kreuzfahrten GmbH) as well as more than 70 experts and stakeholders with a dedicated interest in the Danube navigation.
As organizer and member of the European Parliament's Transport Committee, MEP Tapardel opened the event with a message highlighting the importance of the Danube in the transport and trade scheme in Europe, advocating the need for an integrated approach to investment in projects drawn up by the stakeholders and the European Commission. "Despite the shortcomings caused by poor infrastructure and maintenance levels, the Danube is one of the most important waterways with a huge potential for the development of European industry. I firmly believe that transport on the Danube can became a platform for European connectivity in the long run”, said Ms Tapardel. The main message of MEP Tapardel referred to the fact that effective and sustainable Danube navigation constitutes a notable way to reach the multimodality objectives of the European Union while stimulating the industry and economy of the riparian countries.
As keynote speaker, Commissioner Violeta Bulc has sent an important message of support for transforming the Danube into a sustainable core transport axis of the European Union. Commissioner Bulc reviewed some of the initiatives by which the EC supports regional cooperation, and called on stakeholders to be more active in addressing national and European decision-makers in order to increase the visibility of the inland navigation sector in the political debate. According to Commissioner Bulc,"The economic potential of the Danube region is infinite and the European Commission is ready to pay extra attention to inland navigation. Now that we are at a turning point in the transport sector, one in which we are trying to integrate digitalization and sustainability objectives, inland navigation can be a defining element of the European connectivity and logistics network. However, I would like to point out that this sector is still underrepresented and promoted in Brussels. That is why today I appeal to those present to find a common message and to draw up an action plan that the Commission can then support financially and technically".
On behalf of Romania, Mr Felix Stroe, Minister of Transport, presented the vision and the progress of the ministry regarding the current status of the inland waterway transport activities, ongoing projects as well as planned actions. "Romania pays particular attention to the inland waterway sector, which is regarded as the most efficient mode of transport, both economically and environmentally, taking all necessary measures to ensure proper conditions of navigation, both in the Romanian sector but also in the Bulgarian one, in case the national obligations were not properly fulfilled”, said Mr Stroe.
Assistant Minister of Transport of Serbia Mr Veljko Kovačevic and General Director of Project Management, Ministry of Transport of Slovakia Mr Juraj Méry elaborated on several important infrastructure projects in their countries which clearly demonstrate the political will to improve the functioning of the Danube waterway.
MEP Peter Kouroumbashev from Bulgaria draw attention in his speech to some important aspects such as fairway maintenance of the BG sector, importance of strategic bridges between RO-BG, building of common hydropower plants as well as Schengen adherence of Romania and Bulgaria. Mr Kouroumbashev took note of all the remarks coming from Romanian stakeholders with regard to fairway maintenance and dredging issues and promised to pass them along to his Ministry of Transport.
Mr Manfred Seitz, Secretary General of Pro Danube International, raised the awareness towards the innovation needs of the Danube IWT sector. According to Mr Seitz, "The Danube Region needs smart, sustainable and inclusive growth based on a modern transport system. Danube waterways can provide efficient logistics solutions both in terms of costs and from an environmental perspective, which will improve the competitive situation of many industries that seek access to the Black Sea, Caspian and Middle East markets. Targeted innovation will steer to the modernization of this important sector and will result into a revitalized of the Danube transport among transport users, logistics service providers and the wider public. Mr Seitz introduced the third major lead project of Pro Danube - GRENDEL – which addresses the objectives defined in the “Green Deal for Danube River Transport”, the policy & business framework to improve efficiency & environmental performance of Danube waterway transport system. This initiative was officially introduced during last year’s edition and fosters cooperation of the public and private sector in order to enhance and to green the Danube river transport. Other two successful lead projects which are part of the Green Deal are “DANTE – Improving Administrative Procedures and Processes for Danube IWT” and “DAPhNE – Danube Ports Network”, both projects receiving funding from the Danube Transnational Programme and are quoted as good practise examples.
The presentations introduced at the Danube Transport Day can be downloaded here.
The Danube Transport Day was lively broadcasted on CaleaEuropeana.ro, a multimedia platform promoting EU policies & strategies. The recording can be accessed at: http://www.caleaeuropeana.ro/video-eurodeputatul-claudia-tapardel-psd-sd-transportul-pe-dunare-poate-constitui-platforma-pentru-conectivitatea-europeana-pe-termen-lung/
Source: Pro Danube International