Key points:

  • In the EESC's view, the planned changes will not be effective unless there is appropriate infrastructure underpinning the development and maintenance of this mode of transport. Without the prospect of improving navigation conditions on waterways, shipowners will not take the risk and not invest in a modern fleet, and the local authorities of individual countries will not be interested in creating intermodal terminals.
  • Significant emphasis should be placed on issues related to the situation of crews. New technologies require new skills. Investments in skills and qualifications are needed. The lack of action poses threats relating to the safety of workers, crews and passengers. The EESC therefore underlines the need for Member States to properly implement Directive (EU) 2017/2397 on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation. Furthermore, employment conditions including working time rules, adequate social protection legislation for the posting of workers and occupational health and safety in the sector need to be improved.
  • The EESC also points out that many announced and planned actions have so far not been implemented. It is therefore essential that the European, national and local authorities be fully involved and determined to achieve these objectives, having regard to the respective competences of the EU, the Member States and local authorities. This also applies to funding sources, which should take into account both European and national funding. Unfortunately, the EESC is disappointed to note that investment in IWT features only to a limited extent in the national recovery plans submitted by Member States.