EU approves Belgian project to shift freight traffic from road to inland waterways

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €14.3 million aid scheme to encourage the shift of freight traffic from road to inland waterways in the Flemish region in Belgium.

The scheme, which will run from January 2022 until the end of 2025, provides aid to terminal operators for terminal hub shuttles and corridor shuttles to encourage beneficiaries to engage in the bundling of freight volumes transported to and from Flemish seaports in Belgium.

The aid takes the form of a subsidy, designed to cover the costs for the additional corridor shuttle running and the beneficiaries' costs for efficiently combining freight volumes transported to and from Flemish seaports.

The additional roundtrip of a corridor shuttle and bundling of freight volumes will make inland waterways more time-efficient, less costly and therefore more attractive and competitive for shippers compared to transport by road.

The Commission found that the measure is necessary to provide the right incentives to shippers to opt for less polluting modes of transport while at the same time reducing road congestion.

The Commission also found that, in addition to supporting a greener form of mobility such as inland waterway transport, the measure is proportionate and necessary to achieve the objective pursued, namely to facilitate the modal shift from road to inland waterways, whilst not leading to undue competition distortions. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is compatible with EU State aid rules.

Image: Strépy Bracquegnies (Belgium), panorama on the "Canal du Centre" shot from the ship elevator tower, by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

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European Commission press service, Brussels.

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