Photo: HHM / Dietmar Hasenpusch

Germany wins EU funding for sustainable inland shipping program

The European Commission has approved a €131 million ($156 million) German scheme to support “the sustainable modernization” of inland waterway fleets in Germany.

“Today (1 July) is a very good day for inland navigation! With the approval from Brussels and an already approved funding volume of around 131 million euros, we have the opportunity to finally modernize the German fleet sustainably,” Martin Staats, President of the Federal Association of German Inland Navigation (BDB), commented.

“I am pleased that with the new program, the most important measure in our inland shipping master plan will still be implemented at the end of the election period!”

As informed, the scheme consists of two measures. The first measure aims at increasing the competitiveness, efficiency and safety of inland waterway vessels in Germany, by supporting the upgrading of inland waterway vessels. This is expected to contribute to a modal shift towards inland waterway vessels for freight transport.

The second measure aims at reducing the negative environmental impact of inland waterway vessels, by lowering emissions through the retrofitting of inland waterway vessels with new, environmentally friendly engines and lower-emission technologies.

Image Courtesy: HHM / Dietmar Hasenpusch

Under both measures, the support will take the form of direct grants.

The commission assessed the first measure and found that the measure is beneficial for the environment and for mobility, as it supports waterway transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. What is more, the commission concluded that the measure is proportionate and necessary to achieve the objective pursued, namely to support the modal shift from road to waterways.

With regards to the second measure, the commission found that the measure is proportionate and limited to the minimum necessary, in particular because the level of the aid will be set in principle through a competitive bidding process. It also determined that the measure will contribute to the reduction of CO2 and air pollutant emissions, in line with the EU’s climate and environmental objectives set out in the European Green Deal.

“The commission therefore concluded that the positive effects of the scheme outweigh any potential distortion of competition and trade brought about by the aid. On this basis, the commission approved the scheme under EU State aid rules,” the EC said in a statement.