Reference Actions of the EUSDR Action Plan
(European Commission’s SWD(2020) 59 final, April 2020):


ACTION 3: Facilitate fleet modernisation”


Inland waterway transport has been the most environmentally friendly mode of inland transport for decades. However, this advantage has steadily been eroding due to the rapid improvement of emission levels in other transport modes.


The long lifetime of inland barge engines – 15 to 20 years, whereas road vehicles are replaced after 5 to 10 years – results in a slow uptake of new engines in the fleet. The Danube inland fleet consists of about 3.500 units, which make up – compared to vessels operating on the Rhine waterway – a relatively old population. Only very few new-built vessels have been put in operation in the Danube region in the last 20 years and modernisation as well as greening measures have been implemented only to a limited extent. 


Retrofitting the existing vessels causes significant additional investment costs for the vessel owner/operator and the relatively small and specific market for inland vessels causes disadvantages of scale. Engine manufacturers prefer to concentrate their research and development activities on larger and potentially more profitable markets and need to take foreign standards into account.


The Working Group therefore supports the joint development and co-operation in the field of innovation and consequently the building up of buying power for specific and cutting edge applications specifically developed for inland navigation.


Based on a review of previous projects and analyses as well as consultations within the PA1a Working Group on Fleet Modernisation, the PA1a Technical Secretariat elaborated the first PA1a Strategy on Fleet Modernisation in 2019.

In June 2021 PA1a
drafted the Discussion paper “Policy recommendation on fleet modernization” which builds on the Strategy published in 2019 and considers in-depth analyses and relevant reports published after December 2019. It elaborates two promising policy recommendations, namely the creation of national aid schemes and the development of a strategic research agenda including technology pathways.


  • National funding schemes:
    An overview of current funding programmes is provided in the European funding database, developed in the PLATINA II project and maintained by EIBIP (European Inland Barging Innovation Platform).