Speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the seminar on Sustainable Transport in European Networks, Kąty Wrocławskie
Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Mrs. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, visited with a trade mission EU member state Poland. She was accompanied by 35 Dutch companies. Main topics of her visit were transport, in particular rail transport and inland shipping, and climate adaptation and water.
Dear Governor, Marshall and Ambassador,
Good morning, welcome everybody, dzień dobry!
It’s an honour to be here in this beautiful country, where we’ve received such a warm welcome.
Before I start, I’d first I’d like to thank Mr Schavemaker, the managing director, and all the staff of this impressive company for hosting this gathering!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Transport connects. Water unites.
I’ll keep this fitting theme in mind over the next few days.
Today is my first day in Poland.
And it’s no coincidence that I’m starting my visit in this important economic region.
For many years now, this region and the Netherlands have enjoyed strong economic ties.
Certainly when it comes to transport.
Later this morning those ties will become even closer, when we celebrate a new milestone in the creation of the first direct rail link between South Poland and the Netherlands.
Our host Schavemaker is building the link, which will start operating next March.
Transport is an important sector in both our countries.
Good links and a strong transport sector are key to an open economy.
Rotterdam’s position as Europe’s largest port depends on good links with the European hinterland.
An excellent infrastructure is essential if our economies are to flourish.
The Netherlands has always been a logistics hub in Europe.
And – in the relatively short period since the fall of the Wall – Poland has grown into one of the main hubs in Central and Eastern Europe.
Your country is a crucial link between East and West.
New developments – like the ambitious Central Transport Hub project near Warsaw – testify to how Poland’s role in logistics is getting stronger and stronger.
And the Netherlands, as your logistics partner, is of course following the progress of this project with great interest.
In short, road, rail and water transport have developed strongly in recent decades.
They are being modernised and expanded.
There is one area, though, which both our countries need to address.
As yet, the potential of rail and water transport is not yet being fully exploited.
There is still enormous room for growth.
Both the Polish and Dutch governments recognise this.
So we need to seize these opportunities. Especially now, when both our economies are strong and healthy.
In the economic relationship between our countries, freight transport by road predominates.
But as I said, there is great potential for freight transport by rail.
It’s a sector which has been seen considerable growth in recent years, but that hasn’t yet been fully exploited.
It’s up to the sector – and to us, as public authorities – to win over businesses and convince them of the benefits of this modality.
Besides tapping into new markets, there’s another important reason for investing in a modal shift from road to rail – and to transport by water.
It will also remove thousands of trucks from our congested roads.
Especially now, with increasing mobility and transport flows, thanks to the growing economy.
And also thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, which is creating closer links between the European and Chinese economies.
So it makes sense to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by rail freight transport.
At national level and within the trans-European networks.
In this respect, the Rail Freight Corridors are crucial.
Poland and the Netherlands are both pressing for better rail freight transport facilities for the North Sea Baltic corridor.
Equally, the increased transport flows create scope for further developing inland shipping.
In the Netherlands, companies are increasingly opting to transport goods by barge − a development that the Dutch government is promoting, for example by deepening and widening inland waterways and locks.
In addition to better accessibility, a modal shift to rail and water will help us achieve national and European reduction targets for carbon emissions and air pollution.
And last but not least, will increase road safety.
So rail and inland waterways provide us with smart, sustainable solutions to the challenges of the future with regard to liveability, safety and the environment.
Over the next few days, we’ll be looking at how together we can make better use of smart and sustainable transport solutions,
how together we can grow markets, and
how together we can make Poland, the Netherlands and Europe truly sustainable.
To this end, I’ll be talking with my Polish counterpart, other officials and of course market parties.
In short, I look forward to hearing from you later today how we can take international enterprise between Poland and the Netherlands to the next level.
I’m confident that Polish and Dutch transport firms will forge new connections.
We might not speak the same language, but we do speak the language of enterprise, which is all about daring and innovation.
I wish you an inspiring seminar.
Dziękuję! Thank you.