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The Pro Danube Team wishes you Happy Easter!
Newsletter March 2021
We would like to update you on the activities carried out by our association since our last mailing in February 2021. Interested persons are invited to subscribe to our newsletter via the website of Pro Danube International.

In order to interact more efficiently with the industry and to provide information in real time, Pro Danube International has launched new interactive communication channels via social media. We cordially invite you to like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin by clicking on the icons below.
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PDI marks its 10th anniversary with a special General Assembly and the launch of its new website

Attended by its members, the Coordinator of the Rhine-Danube Corridor – Ms. Ines Ayala Sender, representatives of the European Commission, the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency and the Danube Commission as well as its fellow branch organisations - INE, IWT Platform, Pro Danube Austria and the waterway administration viadonau, the 10th anniversary of Pro Danube International was marked on Friday, 26 March 2021, by a festive online edition of the association’s General Assembly. On this occasion, Pro Danube’s new website was officially launched, providing a new point of reference for partners and stakeholders.

Founded in 2011 by Mr. Alexandru Capatu and Mr. Manfred Seitz, Pro Danube International continued to grow, developing into a network of more than 180 companies which have a strategic interest in securing better infrastructure conditions and a higher rate of public & private investments in the Danube transport and logistics system. In its capacity as the main voice of the IWT industry in the Danube Region, Pro Danube initiated and successfully rolled out projects funded by various EU funding programmes such as the Danube Transnational Programme – DANTE, DAPhNE (2017-2019), GRENDEL (2018-2020) as well as in the frame of other funding programmes such as CEF, Horizon 2020 and TEN-T - all of which produced tangible results widely acknowledged on the transnational level.
 
Having a unified, harmonised voice that represents the interest of the Danube IWT sector is, as highlighted by PDI’s Chairman, Mr. Herfried Leitner, beneficial for both the industry and public authorities responsible for the governance of IWT.
 
PDI is actively involved in initiatives at the EU level having continuously contributed to major policy initiatives such as the European Union Action Programme NAIADES, the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region as well as the Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its navigable tributaries. The association is furthermore actively involved in dedicated expert groups such as:
  • Permanent observer of the EUSDR/PA1A Steering Group (since April 2015) as well as active member of the working groups;
  • Member of European RIS Expert Groups;
  • Member of NAIADES Expert Group;
  • Member of FAIRWAY project Advisory Board;
  • Member of Good Navigation Status Expert Group;
  • Member of DINA – Digital Inland Waterway Area Task Force (since 2017);
  • Member of the DTLF – Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (December 2018);
  • PIANC (World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure): 
    • WG125: River Information Services;
    • WG156: e-Navigation for Inland Waterways.
Pro Danube’s celebration was honoured by the presence of Ms. Ines Ayala-Sender, the new European Coordinator for the TEN-T Rhine-Danube Corridor as of 1 January 2021. In her keynote speech, Ms. Ayala-Sender highlighted PDI’s role in efficiently bundling the Danube IWT industry’s voice on the European level and its vital role in initiating and facilitating EU-funded projects which had a positive impact on the overall development of IWT. These projects further strengthened the Danube IWT community, setting the ground for successful subsequent initiatives and projects which shall reflect key aspects of the European Green Deal.
 
One of the two founders of Pro Danube International – Mr. Manfred Seitz – reflected on the beginnings of the association, on the driving force of his and Mr. Capatu’s enthusiasm for the IWT sector that was and still is present at the heart of PDI. Remembering PDI’s success stories and its evolution as a unified voice of the Danube IWT industry was a great opportunity to cherish the memory of the late founding father and President of PDI, Mr. Alexandru Capatu.
 
Underlying PDI’s role as a gateway between public and private entities, Mr. Antonio Stoean, representing one of the founding members of Pro Danube International – TTS Romania – argued that digitalisation and greening are key elements that should play a vital role in PDI’s future initiatives. Moreover, from the sector’s perspective, several short and mid-term actions are needed in order to efficiently adapt IWT to the latest European legislation in terms of emission reduction and alternative fuels. Crucial for a balanced development is a common approach, whereas the comparatively low intake of innovative technologies must be taken into consideration when shaping the future of IWT.

“Greater Together” is a key motto that defines the very existence of PDI, as highlighted by its General Secretary, Mr. Róbert Rafael. This is reflected by the fruitful partnership with related public and private branch organisations such as INE, the IWT Platform, Pro Danube Austria and the waterway administration viadonau. The distinguished representatives of these organisations joined PDI’s celebration marking a decade of commitment for the well-being of the Danube IWT sector, highlighting in their keynote speeches the excellent collaboration in terms of projects and initiatives.
 
A new website as key communication platform for the years ahead
 
The continuous evolution of Pro Danube and its acknowledged impact on the well-being of the Danube IWT sector is reflected in the launch of a new website that features the organisation’s commitment to the well-being of the Danube IWT sector and its expertise in various IWT related thematic fields. With PDI focusing on identifying the needs of the sector & with rolling out EU-wide policy-related-actions on one hand, and PDM on shaping up business cases as well as on developing and implementing transnational projects, on the other hand, the two entities share the same communication efforts and dissemination channels. To this end, four main channels support Pro Danube on a daily basis to communicate with its stakeholders, namely by means of its website as well as via the dedicated group's setup making use of the Social Media platforms - Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram.
 
The redesigned website harmoniously integrates various contents as well as improved functionalities, facilitating closer communication with the members and the community at large. It offers quick and easy access to the main information of both Pro Danube International and Pro Danube Management, on past and ongoing projects, provides an overview of its monthly newsletters, publications, events, news and other informative materials facilitating awareness creation and know-how transfer within the IWT community. The highlights are reflected by the Members as well as the Initiatives sections, which give the necessary visibility and hence promote tailored activities to the needs of our sector.
1. Preparing FAIRway 2 works and FAIRway works!: kick-off
While “FAIRway works! in the Rhine-Danube Corridor” focuses on the technical implementation of modernising the Danube waterway, the project „Preparing FAIRway 2 works in the Rhine-Danube Corridor“ carries out as a joint undertaking with Croatia and Serbia preparatory works for the potential river engineering measures along the critical bottlenecks on the Croatian-Serbian common Danube section.

One of the most important activities in the framework of “FAIRway works! in the Rhine-Danube Corridor” is the upgrade of the Serbian navigational lock Iron Gate II, planned for 2022-2023, which will be implemented without serious interruptions for the navigation. The current state of the lock jeopardises the safety and reliability of the operations, therefore the works foreseen in this project are essential to ensure that a Good Navigation Status is achieved and maintained. While Serbia will also procure one multifunctional marking vessel, one surveying vessel and monitored buoys in the framework of the project, the initiatives in Austria address the upgrade of three public mooring places in Linz, Wildungsmauer and Vienna. The construction works in Linz started in December 2020 and aim to improve the safety and the environmental performance of mooring operations. Another activity celebrating first success, is the procurement of multifunctional marking equipment with delivery of the lighter and contract signature for the pusher in March 2021. The new marking equipment will improve surveying data and enable faster marking operations, in particular in the free-flowing sections Wachau and East of Vienna.

For Herfried Leitner (Pro Danube International) the safety and reliability of the waterway are an important basis for its future. He endorses the presented projects and explains: “Danube navigation sector very much appreciates the two new project initiatives, which ensure the decrease of waiting times at the Serbian Iron Gate II locks, provide better marking and information services and enhance safety and sustainability of mooring operations.”
 
Both Actions are carried out following the results of the CEF funded Actions FAIRway Danube and are co-ordinated by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology with the support of viadonau as designated implementing body, together with the Serbian Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure in both actions and the Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure in Preparing FAIRway2 works. For both, Pro Danube will continue to follow their implementation and provide inputs from the business perspective.
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2. Pro Danube at the Rhine-Danube Corridor Meetings

Pro Danube International was represented by its Chairman, Mr. Herfried Leitner, and its General Secretary, Mr. Robert Rafael at the 13th Working Group Meeting of the Rhine-Danube Corridor on Ports and Inland Waterways. With Pro Danube being actively involved in the DIONYSUS project, which core objective is to address the main regional challenges in port infrastructure governance and planning in order to facilitate the integration of the Danube Region into smart and sustainable multi-modal transport chains, the meeting proved extremely fruitful from a multitude of perspectives. It provided a platform to discuss and present the ongoing proceedings directly affecting the legislative framework on inland waterway transport, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Danube riparian countries, and last but not least, information on the status quo of digitalisation and alternative fuels as well as on the current status of the revision of the TEN-T Regulation.

Regarding digitalisation – vital in making IWT more efficient - Pro Danube’s Chairman, Mr. Leitner, asked how the European Commission puts the advantages of digitalisation into balance: what is the concrete benefit for river ship owners since currently, they are not able to see the operating vessels on one, harmonised platform. The answer provided suggested that there is still the challenge of data protection while the expectation is that this issue, addressed by RIS COMEX, will be solved in the foreseeable future. The conclusions of the meeting and the collected information will feed into the ongoing proceedings of the DIONYSUS project.
 
In the aftermath of this meeting, the representatives of Pro Danube joined the 15th  Online Meeting of the Rhine-Danube Core Network Corridor Forum. High on the agenda of the meeting was the presentation of the progress of the updated Study on the Rhine-Danube TEN-T Core Network 2021. The presentation addressed several aspects, such as: What has changed compared to the findings in 2017? Which bottlenecks still hamper multimodality? What is the status quo of ongoing projects? This and further relevant questions will be touched by the study which is expected to be published soon. 

Pro Danube urged for the long-term solution for the fairway management works on the Romanian-Bulgarian joint Danube section. Its representatives also highlighted that besides the available depth in the fairway, it also has to be ensured that the port entrances are also providing the proper depth to enter/leave the port with loaded draught as on the fairway.

Other important aspects discussed in the framework of the meeting refer to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on multimodality and to the expected financing opportunities for the transport sector foreseen for the period 2021-2027.

3. Expert recommendations for the development of future TEN-T policy and the revision of the TEN-T Regulation finalised
The report "Expert recommendations for the development of future TEN-T policy and the revision of the TEN-T Regulation" has been finalised. The document, prepared by the NAIADES sub-group on Good Navigation Status (GNS), provides an analysis of the recommendations provided by the members of the subgroup in terms of users' requirements for seamless navigation under a changing climate, taking into account the different characteristics of waterways (canals, impounded and free-flowing rivers) as well as for proposals for the future policy for TEN-T in relation to the development of IWW.

Pro Danube was actively involved in the drafting process, providing input and feedback based on the consultations with its members.
4.The evaluation of the RIS Directive is now available

The purpose of this evaluation is to generate and provide an evidence base to support any further decisions related to the development of the legislative framework in this policy area, including a possible revision of the current Directive.
 
The Directive defines the general obligation of the Member States in ensuring the development and implementation of river information services in an efficient, expandable and interoperable way, providing interfaces to transport management systems and commercial activities. Member States shall provide the data necessary for the planning of voyages, shall provide electronic charts (for waterways of class Va and above), shall provide notices to skippers in standardised, coded and downloadable messages and Member States shall enable competent authorities to receive standardised electronic ship reports from ships.
 
The evaluation is available here.

5. Conference on the importance of IWT for Europe
A strong logistical system with smoothly functioning mobility in freight transport is an essential prerequisite for a competitive industry. Inland waterway transport is part of an efficient and resource-saving transport system - this is how the European Commission presents IWT in its White Paper on transport. Several hundred million tons of goods are already transported annually on the inland waterways of the European Union. Modernising IWT, increasing its degree of efficiency would lead to a significant increase in the volumes transported on inland waterways and thus smoothen the way towards climate neutrality.

A more reliable infrastructure, nationwide available modern transshipment points for combined transport, or greater automation and digitisation would help to better exploit the unused potential of inland waterways. Representing TTS Austria GmbH, Mr. Herfried Leitner provided a keynote speech on the advantages of IWT, while Pro Danube International was represented by its General Secretary, Mr. Robert Rafael.
6. Updates from the PhysICAL project
Pro Danube is hereby proud to report on the progress of PhysICAL, a leading research project dealing with the concept of Physical Internet for the logistics sector in Austria, co-funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).

Work in the framework of PhysICAL is progressing at a steady pace. On the 4th of March representatives of the project consortium came together for a virtual Consortium Meeting to report on the project progress and review the upcoming milestones.  The four pilot deployments which are led by Steiermarkbahn (development of a transport unit prototype for the transport of forestry products), 4PL Intermodal (open transport management platform), Stranzinger Gruppe (the first real trading company in the virtual world in e-Commerce 3.0) and Variocube (cooperative CEP delivery with PI boxes) have successfully completed the planning phase as well as the definition of requirements based on the needs of the industry.
 
In terms of the Digital Twin activity, a digital twin is envisaged for all four pilot activities. In some cases, requirements definition workshops have already taken place. The project consortium partner Bitsfabrik has already created a dummy version of the visualization interface. Real transport data and data structure descriptions are requested, so that the dummy can be further developed.
 
Any of you interested in the outcomes of the project, its milestones reached so far as well as the expected results and events, is kindly invited to regularly visit the project's website and to subscribe to the project's newsletter here. We would also kindly like to invite you to follow the latest developments in the PhysICAL project on social media by clicking on the icons below:
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7. Push4Danube: new initiative to boost the Danube IWT sector
Jointly initiated by Pro Danube International and Pro Danube Austria, the aim of Push4Danube is to bundle the investment needs of the sector in order to facilitate the adequate financing of IWT related projects. Challenged by an unprecedented crisis, the active involvement of the sector is a key prerequisite to successfully adapt the IWT industry to the latest environmental EU policy framework. Pro Danube International urges the businesses operating on the Danube to participate in the online survey using the following link.
8. STEERER citizen engagement platform
Join STEERER in the quest for zero-emissions waterborne transport and test your knowledge about the waterborne sector with our very first live project on the platform - a shipping quiz!

You are invited to promote this campaign with your network and to raise awareness of the strategic importance of waterborne transport and its decarbonisation.
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9. Upcoming events
10. Useful links
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Grünbergstraße 15, Stiege 1, 5th floor, 1120 Vienna, Austria
E-Mail: office@prodanube.eu

 

For questions or further information about the content of this newsletter, please contact:
Ruxandra Florescu (florescu@prodanube.eu)
Christian Stark (stark@prodanube.eu)



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