European Parliament agrees to uniform requirements for inland waterway vessels

The technical requirements for inland waterway vessels are soon to be standardised across the whole of Europe. For users of inland waterways in the EU, this brings an end to legal inequality due to the different technical standards in place on the Rhine.

Under the Dutch EU Presidency, on 17 March the Council reached an informal deal with the European Parliament on the revision of the directive concerning the technical requirements for inland waterway vessels. The revised draft directive means that it will be possible to refer directly to the technical standards drawn up by the CESNI Comité which was established under the auspices of the Central Commission for Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) on 3 June 2015. Inland water vessels that want to obtain an EU inland navigation certificate and use Europe’s inland waterways will have to comply with these technical requirements.
The CESNI technical standards will not only be incorporated into EU legislation, but will also become applicable on the Rhine, thereby harmonising technical requirements for inland waterway vessels within Europe. In the current situation, both the EU and the CCNR apply their own technical requirements, which are virtually identical in terms of content but differ as regards certain components. This results in legal uncertainty for the inland navigation sector. CESNI adopted a first version of the technical standard on 26 November 2015. The standard comprises detailed specifications ranging from provisions regarding shipbuilding and equipment to provisions applicable to craft operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG). The requirements relating to LNG, which did not exist before, will facilitate the use of this alternative fuel in inland navigation.  

The revised technical directive is part of a broader package of measures aimed at promoting the use of Europe's inland waterways (NAIADES II). The Dutch EU Presidency will present the agreed text to the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) for approval on 23 March.