Open letter to EU transport commissioner from the Elbe community

Dear Mr Vice President,

As representatives of the European inland ports, the community of waterway users and operators as well as the Union of Chambers of Commerce & Industry along the rivers Elbe and Oder in the European Union, we would like to urge the European Commission to fully integrate the Elbe river in the new TEN-T core network.

We strongly believe that:
- the Elbe waterway fully fits into the multimodal corridor approach Hamburg-Leipzig-Prague, as put forward by the European Commission;
- the development of the Elbe as navigable river is essential for unlocking the waterborne access of the Czech Republic and to allow the Czech Republic to be linked with the sea;
- the development of inland waterway transport to and from the Czech Republic is needed to meet the growing transport demands in a sustainable way; the modal shift advocated in the white paper of the European Commission cannot be met with rail transport only.
We would like to stress that the integration of the Elbe perfectly fits in the rationale of the TEN-T review for different reasons:
- better link East and West: the Elbe links the Port of Hamburg at the North Sea with Eastern Germany and the Czech Republic;
- more emphasis on the nodes (primary urban nodes, ports, airports,…): the Elbe provides for a waterborne link between the Port of Hamburg, one of the main entrance gates to the European Union and to external trade and the Capital of the Czech Republic, Prague;
- take climate change into account: it is clear that inland waterway transport is the transport mode with the lowest environmental impact. Besides, it is clear that if the existing inland waterway transport infrastructure is further developed and its potential is fully used, economies of scale will allow to accelerate the investments in new technologies and barges.

We therefore believe that the development of the Elbe, that provides for a natural transport link between the North Sea and the Czech Republic, is an inherent part of the European Commission’s policy in favour of inland waterways as part of its vision for a competitive and sustainable transport system.

Taking up the Elbe waterway in the core TEN-T network, would contribute to give clarity on the future policy to the German and Czech transport and logistics stakeholders (ports, industry, barge owners) and would allow to plan long-term investments in the Elbe region.

Sincerely yours,

Isabelle Ryckbost (EFIP), European Federation of Inland Ports
Theresia Hacksteiner (EBU), European Barge Union
Karin De Schepper (INE), Inland Navigation Europe
Nicolette van der Jagt (ESC), European Shippers Council
Marco Sorgetti (CLECAT), European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services
Detlef Bütow (SBO), Sächsische Binnenhäfen Oberelbe GmbH
Mathias Moser, ENERCON GmbH
Thomas Brockmeier, Industrie- und Handelskammer Halle-Dessau
Klaus Olbricht, Industrie- und Handelskammer Magdeburg
Robert Baack (ERSTU), European River-Sea-Transport Union e.V.
Peter Plewa, Elbstromverein
Hans-Jörg Schmidt-Trenz (KEO), Kammerunion Elbe-Oder