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Safe and efficient river transport: river information services

Safe and efficient river transport: river information services


Directive 2005/44/EC on harmonised river information services (RIS) on the EU’s inland waterways


It establishes rules on the use of harmonised river information services (RIS)*. These rules are designed to ensure the safety, efficiency and environmental friendliness of inland waterways in the EU. They apply to canals, rivers, lakes and ports able to take vessels between 1,000 and 1,500 tonnes.


  • River information services include:
    • geographical, hydrological and administrative data on waterways (‘fairway information’);
    • data relevant to navigation in the short, medium and long term (‘tactical and strategic traffic information’);
    • action in the event of an accident (‘calamity abatement support’);
    • statistics, customs services, waterway charges and port dues.
  • EU countries must:
    • ensure their RIS are efficient, allow for expansion and can coordinate with other systems;
    • supply all RIS users with the relevant data on navigational and voyage planning;
    • establish RIS centres according to regional needs;
    • designate authorities to oversee RIS application and the exchange of international data.
  • The European Commission is responsible for setting out, by agreed deadlines, the technical guidelines for the planning, implementation and operational use of RIS. These include:
    • an electronic chart display and information system;
    • electronic ship reporting;
    • notices to skippers;
    • vessel tracking and tracing systems;
    • compatibility of RIS equipment.
  • The Commission, assisted by a committee of national experts, has developed RIS technical requirements.

Action programme

In 2006, the Commission presented a communication on an integrated EU action programme for inland waterway transport. Known as Naiades (Navigation and inland waterway action and development in Europe), the programme was updated in 2013 (Naiades II) and set out specific objectives up to 2020. The Commission’s Naiades II communication aims to create the conditions for inland navigation transport to become a quality mode of transport.


It entered into force on 20 October 2005. EU countries had to incorporate it in their national law by 20 October 2007.


  • The EU has over 37,000 km of canals and rivers linking key towns and economic areas. These inland waterways make a major contribution to a sustainable transport system, reducing congestion and pollution on the EU's roads.
  • River Information Services portal


* River information services (RIS): these support inland navigation traffic and transport management and, where feasible, coordination with other forms of transport.


Directive 2005/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on harmonised river information services (RIS) on inland waterways in the Community (OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, pp. 152–159)

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2005/44/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.

last update 25.07.2016