E40 waterway not part of EU’s transport roadmap

The European Commission recently released their proposal for Europe’s roadmap for future transport. The so-called trans-European transport network (TEN-T) policy doesn’t include the planned E40 waterway route, recognizing its high costs and environmental impacts. Instead, the focus is on multimodality, high-speed rail and climate-proof projects.

The TEN-T Regulation aims to build an effective, EU-wide and multimodal transport network across the European Union. It includes rail, inland waterways, short-sea shipping routes and roads. In 2019, this policy was extended to six Eastern Partnership countries, including Belarus and Ukraine. The current TEN-T revision is a real opportunity to make the trans-European transport network fit for the future, and more sustainable, including reducing CO2 emissions. Considering this, the European Commission did not include the proposed E40 inland waterway. This will be a blow to the government of Poland who are committed to construct a new dam – a key part of the E40 waterway – on the Vistula river. Instead, the Commission chooses sustainable and climate-friendly rail. The decision means that EU money will not be spent constructing the 2,000 km long waterway, thus preventing devastating impacts for nature and people alike. This sparks real hope that E40 waterway will not become reality.

EU’s sustainable transport vision

Following the European Commission’s “Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy” published in December 2020, the current revision aims to support the transition to a greener, more efficient and smarter future transport network. The roadmap should guide the transport sector towards the goals of the European Green Deal. Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said on the launch of the revised TEN-T policy: “Europe’s green and digital transition will bring big changes to the ways we move around. Today’s proposals set European mobility on track for a sustainable future.”

In line with his statement, key changes include:

  • High infrastructure standards for all transport modes;
  • Stronger synergies between infrastructure planning and the operation of transport services;
  • Increased resilience to natural and human-made disasters via climate-proofing requirements and environmental impact assessments for new projects;
  • More transhipment hubs and multimodal passenger terminals in cities to facilitate multimodality;
  • Network-wide possibility for lorries to be transported by trains.

The Save Polesia partnership welcomes the focus on multimodality and high-speed rail and the commitment in ensuring all projects are climate proof and consistent with environmental obligations.

Next steps towards an adopted EU transport roadmap

The Commission’s proposal is now open for public consultation until mid-February. Throughout 2022, the proposal will progress through the ordinary legislative procedure, meaning it will be scrutinised by the European Parliament and Council and if agreed jointly adopted. Save Polesia partners will follow the process closely to ensure E40 waterway is not added.

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*Top image shows an aerial photo of train tracks by Bence Balla-Schottner on Unsplash.