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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Rules for promoting inland waterway transport in the EU

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Rules for promoting inland waterway transport in the EU


Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport



  • Together with its amending regulations, it sets down the rules for a policy on EU fleet capacity.
  • It seeks to encourage the development of sustainable and competitive inland waterway transport.


  • EU countries that have fleet tonnage of over 100,000 tonnes, and with waterways connected with other EU countries, are required to set up an Inland Waterways Fund (with separate reserve funds for dry cargo carriers*, tankers*, and pusher vessels*).
  • It covers vessels that transport goods commercially. There are several exemptions, such as for vessels that operate on the Danube or that are used exclusively for storing goods or dredging.
  • Under Regulation (EC) No 718/1999, these funds were to be administered by national authorities and could be used in 2 situations:
    • in the event of ‘serious market disturbance’ in the inland waterway transport market (within the meaning of Directive 96/75/EC), and
    • if unanimously requested by the organisations representing inland waterway transport. As of early 2014, these reserve funds had never been used.
  • Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 contained an ‘old-for-new’ rule. This meant that any owner who wanted to bring a new vessel into the fleet had to either scrap old vessel tonnage or pay money. This rule came to an end under Regulation (EC) No 411/2003, and could only be reactivated, accompanied or not by structural improvement measures, in the event of a serious market disturbance of the kind referred to in Directive 96/75/EC.

Extended range of measures

Under Regulation (EU) No 546/2014, the scope of the measures available under Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 was amended and extended. The measures include:

  • help (such as information) for workers on inland waterway carriers leaving the industry to obtain an early retirement pension or transfer to another job,
  • vocational training or retraining schemes for crew members leaving the industry,
  • improvement of skills in inland navigation and knowledge of logistics to safeguard the development and future of the profession,
  • encouraging owner-operators to join trade associations and strengthen the organisations representing inland waterway transport at EU level,
  • encouraging upgrading of vessels to improve working conditions and safety,
  • encouraging innovation in respect of vessels and their improved environmental performance,
  • encouraging the use of the reserve funds together with financial instruments such as Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility.


Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 has applied since 29.4.1999. Regulation (EU) No 546/2014 has applied since 18.6.2014.


* Dry cargo carriers: vessels that carry dry cargo (e.g. grains).

* Tankers: vessels that carry wet cargo (e.g. oil).

* Pusher vessels: vessels that serve to push other vessels such as barges but not to carry cargo.


Council Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 of 29 March 1999 on a Community-fleet capacity policy to promote inland waterway transport (OJ L 90, 2.4.1999, pp. 1–5)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 718/1999 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


Council Directive 96/75/EC of 19 November 1996 on the systems of chartering and pricing in national and international inland waterway transport in the Community (OJ L 304, 27.11.1996, pp. 12–14). See consolidated version.

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 (Codified version) (OJ L 56, 29.2.2008, pp. 8–12)

last update 09.02.2016