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Brussels, 13 October 2006

Commission approves Belgian aid scheme for inland waterway transport

The European Commission authorised today a Belgian scheme which intends to encourage the development of inland waterway transport between the Flemish coastal ports and the hinterland. The aid promotes the traffic shift of freight from road to a more environmentally friendly mode of transport. The scheme will be accessible to all EU transport undertakings operating regular services in Belgium.

The European transport policy encourages the use of inland waterway and other environmentally friendly modes of transport to become competitive alternatives to road haulage. As regards inland navigation, the NAIADES programme states that on a liberalised inland navigation market, “the European Commission aims at promoting and strengthening the competitive position of inland waterway transport, in particular by enhancing its integration into multi-modal supply chains”[1].

Under the Belgian scheme, subsidies will be granted for the construction or reconstruction of vessels that can navigate on the part of the sea between Zeebrugge and Vlissingen/Breskens (NL) ("Estuarine navigation"). The aid can also support the start-up of regular container services between Flemish coastal ports and the hinterland (in particular, Flanders and the Rhine Valley).

The aid covers the period 2006-2008 and has a total budget of 6,240,776 EUR for three years.

The Commission has found the scheme compatible with the Treaty rules[2].

[1] “NAIADES” An Integrated European Action Programme for Inland Waterway Transport, COM(2006) 6 of 17.1.2006.

[2] Regulation 1107/70 and Article 87(3)(c ) of the Treaty.

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