Towards an Integrated Waterway Transport System in the Danube Region

By Simon, Szabolcs | Journal of Economics & Management, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Towards an Integrated Waterway Transport System in the Danube Region


Simon, Szabolcs, Journal of Economics & Management


Introduction

The increasing volume of trade between Europe and Asia (EEA 2011) requires transport infrastructure development. Building roads is no longer a solution for the challenge since it would only cause more GHG emissions. Neither are GHG mitigating projects since they would not help congestion. Instead there is a need for the given potential to be used in a more efficient way via enhancing eco-friendly modes of transport and regional networking. Long wish-lists of EU priorities however are not effective. Networking and integration of regional, cohesional, energy and environmental policies are needed to make transport competitive (Erdosi 2007).

Cities are drivers of economic growth, innovation, and international competitiveness (Rechnitzer 2009) and thus it is appealing to study the relation be- tween growth centres and major transportation corridors. The potential of the Danube is really tempting as it interconnects historic cores and logistic centres of the region. The main challenge is the currently inefficient infrastructure (both physical and ICT) making inland navigation uncompetitive. Member states on their own are unable to make use of the freight since they are no potential market in the developing Europe-Asia relation - moreover they suffer from climate change and overall environmental impacts of present freight transport e.g. delivering goods to Rotterdam. The aim is not to increase inland waterway freight, but make it resource efficient. Danube countries in a strategic power bloc through developing infrastructure along with the environment and creating added value of logistics services and ICT innovations can create competitive pricing and mobilise macro-regional synergies. Competition among member countries and modes of transport can undermine the overall region's ability to successfully compete and leverage its resources. A strategy at macro-regional level seems a better option where the broader framework can provide a spatial perspective and the environmental impacts of transport can be considered.

1. Growth of freight and environmental impacts

Simply through targeted infrastructural investments, the decarbonization of the EU transport sector will not be achieved. The Commission's roadmap for 2050 addresses the challenges of dramatically reducing Europe's dependence on imported oil and cutting carbon emissions, however, does not answer the question how to prioritise the scarce funding more strategically to aim at a transport system that goes beyond developing a mass transport infrastructure. An overall integrated transportation network should be created and high level project management should be governed by coordinators. Coordination between CEE governments should be encouraged through emphasis on a new integrated network approach, which among other things ensures the environmental and climate impacts of individual projects are considered coherently. We are concerned that this could be more effectively attained through macro-regional cooperation than at national or EU level.

Establishing a common market lead to growth in freight transportation in the period of 1995-2005. Mobility in transportation in Europe continues to increase due to macroeconomic drivers such as GDP, private income and volume of trade. This trend however will discontinue due to saturation factors more in passanger mobility and less so in freight. According to data from SCENES the extrapolation of the relationship between mobility and macroeconomic drivers to the future shows gradual decuopling of mobility growth from economic growth (Eurelectric 2007).

The European Commission projects that in the absence of additional policies beyond those adopted by March 2010 (i.e. in the Commission's White Paper Reference scenario) freight transport activity (in t-km, including international maritime) would increase by 82% and without decisive policy intervention transport system will not meet the EU target to reduce GHG emissions by at least 60% by 2050, compared to 1990 (European Commission 2011). …

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