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Inland navigation: Community-fleet capacity policy

The object of this Regulation is to develop inland waterway transport so as to provide an alternative to other modes of transport and help achieve sustainable mobility.


Council Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 of 29 March 1999 on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport [See amending acts].


Regulation (EEC) No 1101/89 introduced measures designed to reduce structural overcapacity in the inland waterway transport sector by means of vessel-scrapping schemes coordinated at Community level and by introducing a capacity-regulation mechanism, known as the "old for new" rule, which imposed conditions for bringing new capacity into service.

In its report of November 1997, the Commission expressed the view that the "old for new" rule had become indispensable for the balanced operation of the inland waterways market. Moreover, it seemed that the rule needed to be maintained in order for the effects of scrapping measures taken since 1989 not to be cancelled out by new tonnage being put into service once the Regulation expired.

The Regulation expired on 28 April 1999 and the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 laying down arrangements for a four-year transitional period during which the ratio was gradually to be reduced to zero, i.e. all the existing conditions for bringing new vessels into service were to be removed.

Upon the expiry of this period (29 April 2003), the capacity-regulation mechanism was to become a standby mechanism and the "old for new" rule could no longer be reactivated, accompanied or not by structural improvement measures, unless there was a serious market disturbance.

The Regulation applies to freight vessels and pusher craft which:

  • carry out transport for hire or reward or on own account,
  • are registered in a Member State or operated by an undertaking established in a Member State.

The following are excluded from the scope of the Regulation:

  • vessels which operate exclusively on national waterways not linked to other navigable waterways in the EU,
  • captive vessels which cannot leave the national waterways on which they operate due to their size, and cannot reach other navigable waterways in the Community,
  • vessels operating exclusively on the Danube and its tributaries as far as Kelheim,
  • pusher craft with a motive power less than or equal to 300 kilowatts,
  • sea-going inland waterway vessels and ship-borne barges,
  • vessels exclusively used for storing goods,
  • dredging equipment,
  • ferries,
  • vessels used to provide a non-commercial public service.

Member States with navigable waterways connected to those of another Member State and which have a fleet of over 100 000 tonnes may exclude vessels with a dead weight of less than 450 tonnes from the scope of this Regulation.

These Member States must establish an internal waterways fund under their national legislation, to be managed by their competent authorities.

The fund must include a reserve fund comprising three separate accounts relating to dry-cargo vessels, tanker vessels and pusher vessels. The reserve fund is fed by:

  • the balance remaining from structural improvement measures organised up to 28 April 1999;
  • the special contributions paid under the "old for new" rule;
  • resources unblocked in the event of a serious disturbance of the market within the meaning of Directive 96/75/EC.

The reserve fund can be used in the framework of improvement measures organised at Community level. It can also be used for promotion measures or social measures aimed, for example, at persons wishing to leave the inland waterway transport sector or improve their qualifications, or measures to stimulate groupings and encourage the technical adaptation of vessels.

In order to allow newly-constructed vessels or vessels imported from a third country or leaving national inland waterways to be put into service, the owner of the vessel must either:

  • scrap, without receiving a scrapping premium, a tonnage determined on the basis of a ratio between the old and the new tonnage laid down by the Commission,
  • pay a special contribution determined on the basis of the abovementioned ratio,
  • in the case of the scrapped tonnage being less than required by the abovementioned ratio, pay the difference between the tonnage of the new vessel and that of the scrapped capacity.

The owner of a vessel must pay the special contribution or scrap an amount of old tonnage:

  • either when placing a firm order for the construction of a new vessel or making an application for import;
  • or when the new vessel or imported vessel is taken into service.

Member States may also authorise, as compensatory tonnage, the use of vessels definitively withdrawn from the market for purposes other than the transport of goods (humanitarian aid, museum boats, etc.). The Commission must be notified of such authorisations.

Specialised vessels may be subject to different treatment and be excluded from the "old for new" rule if they comply with certain conditions laid down by the Commission.

The Regulation specifies the fund into which the special contributions must be paid on the basis of the place where the vessel is registered or the Member State where the undertaking operating the vessel is based.

In the event of a serious disturbance of the market and according to the procedure established under Directive 96/75/EC, the Commission may reactivate the "old for new" rule for a limited period or implement improvement measures. Such measures may only be applied to vessels in the active fleet, i.e. those which are in working order, which have valid seaworthiness and tonnage certificates or a formal authorisation to carry out national transport, and which have made at least 10 voyages in the last 24 months.

The Commission must fix the following separately for dry-cargo vessels, tanker vessels and pusher vessels:

  • the ratios for the "old for new" rule,
  • the rate of the special contributions,
  • the period, allocation conditions and rates applying to scrapping premiums,
  • the adjustment coefficients (tonnage equivalents) for the different types and categories of inland waterway vessel.

Member States may take measures to:

  • make it easier for inland waterway carriers wishing to leave the industry to retire early or retrain for jobs in another sector,
  • organise vocational training or retraining courses for workers leaving the industry after their vessel has been scrapped,
  • encourage private owner-operators to join trade associations,
  • encourage the technical adaptation of vessels with a view to improving working and safety conditions,
  • improve the qualifications of boatmen.


ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 718/199929.4.1999-L 90 of 2.4.1999

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 411/200329.4.2003-L 62 of 6.3.2003


Commission Regulation (EC) No 181/2008 of 28 February 2008 laying down certain measures for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 on a Community fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport[Official Journal L 56 of 29.2.2008].
Pursuant to the "old for new" rule this Regulation establishes the special contribution rates for various types of vessels and lays down the parameters to be used for the calculations concerning the operation of the Community fleet capacity policy (determination of the tonnage of certain vessels, entering in the accounts the resources of the inland waterways fund).

Last updated: 10.06.2008
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