The NIWE delegates met prior to the National Conference on River Tourism 1-2 Feb 2018, a B2B event organised by VNF, addressing development of inland waterway tourism and economic activities on and alongside Europe’s inland waterways.

31st January NIWE Meeting 14:00

Venue: Harbour of Bordeaux, la salle du conseil
Address: rue des Etrangers, Bordeaux


14:00 Arrival and coffee

14:30 Welcome and Opening by chair Danny Brennan:
progressing the NIWE approach to European Union strategic issues and influence

Organisation                                              Contact person

UK – Canal River Trust                            present Danny Brennan

Stephen Higham

BE – Province of Antwerp                       Sabine Denissen

BE – City of Gent                                       Rudy van der Ween

BE – De Vlaamse Waterweg                   Veronique Sterkens

FR – Voies Navigables de France          Frédéric Millet (& Guillaume ?)

NL – Waterways Netherlands                 Manon van Meer

FR- Port of Bordeaux                                Didier Domens

FR- Auvergne Rhone-Alpes                     Thomas Ducloutrier



14:35 Partner introductions Responsible Person
14:35 VNF Frederic Millet

Frederic explained the activities of VNF (6000 km long inland waterways). Department of tourism, services and territorial development; main activities. The presentations are attached.

In France boaters pay 1,4 million euros, with boats paying an average of 167 euros for a licence. (In Belgium it is 35-135 euros, in the Netherlands for free). The river cruises are used by foreign people rather than French people, who consider this an expensive holiday option.

Rudy will send the name of the boss of Le Boat (who lives in Bordeaux) to Frederic








14:50 Minutes of the meeting in Amsterdam, held on 12 October 2017

The minutes are approved.

14:55 Mr. Didier Domens – Port of Bordeaux Is responsible for the commercial development of the port.

The port has 350 employees, it is an estuary port with 7 specialized terminals along 100 km of river. It transfers goods but they also have cruise activities (50 vessels per season) but also the river cruises. The transfer of goods is 8,5 million tons of which 50% is hydrocarbons and cereals. It is the most important location for the parts of airplanes of Airbus. New terminal will be build at Pauillac, the location is now being determined. 2020-2022 it needs to be finished.

A lot of dredging is needed all the time. A short film is shown about the activities in the port.

15:10 Mr. David Edwards-May, Mr. Peter Linssen – Sustainable knowledge exchange and cooperation between NIWE and IWI regarding certain topics

David will send us the presentation of IWI and a second one. He hoped we would meet Mr. Linssen later.

He wants NIWE  to become a member of his organisation and that this would help to get more attention/attraction for inland waterways. The focus is on promotion of inland waterways. A lot of people (boaters) are interested in navigating the canals.

They ask themselves the question:how to persuade politicians to get more attention for secondary waterways? E.g. they have paid a lot of attention to secondary waterways in Germany.

They would like to work together with us. We explained that we were undertaking an audit of existing and potential capacity to engage strategically with the EU and related institutions and would assess the best ways to proceed with potential partners on the basis of that process (see detail below)











15:25 Thomas Ducloutrier, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region – Project Waterways tourism flow: forecast and management

The association has a lot of experience on INTERREG projects as a lead partner. This project is an INTERREG Europe bid. Project idea approved by members. With a maximum of 8 partners in de project WRN, CRT and Flemisch waterways are interested in joining the partnership. It is proposed to have a meeting in March or April in Brussels, when de decision is made to formerly continue with the project proposal. There was strong interest in working together if the project fit with our objectives was sound.

The presentation is attached.

15:40 Partner update European programmes (events & projects)

·   Brexit and future of EU Funding from a UK perspective

CRT can still put bids in. Extreme pressure to submit bids. Local contact points advise CRT  to proceed as usual. Now 3-4 Atlantic projects submitted but no news from them yet. CRT will for now continue in NIWE and in submitting projects and keeping fingers crossed for the future.

·   Strategic engagement with the EU

The meeting agreed the following strategic objectives for the next period:

(i)                  To develop EU policy makers and funders’ understanding of the potential of the waterways to improve economic performance, community well being and environmental progress (not least by case study and impact assessment packaging and dissemination); and

(ii)                 through this work, to identify existing and new capacity and opportunities and to help NIWE influence EU decision-making and investment towards further Inland Waterway support and investment.


In order to meet these objectives, we agreed to:

(i)                  to undertake an audit of existing influence, reach and networking capacity among existing NIWE members, through their own direct efforts and networks, through their national and regional interlocuters and through the latters’ present presence (especially regional and national BXL offices) and leverage in Brussels and with the institutions;

(ii)                on the basis of the outcome of the audit and further discussion to develop a (two/three year?) programme of activity, both to maximise the above potential and to identify gaps and opportunities for further reach to promote the waterways and their economic, social and environmental benefits; and,

(iii)               in parallel, to engage like minded organisations, regional, national and international, to develop a broad single platform in pursuit of the NIWE objectives listed.


DB agreed to develop a simple template (looking at networking capacity, regional offices, representational potential, advocacy capacity, and related EU programme initiative links and potential), for NIWE partners to complete to begin the process. He suggested that this could be circulated within 2/3 weeks, and completed and returned by NIWE members by Easter, so that the work could be re-circulated as a completed first draft for discussion ahead of the June meeting for agreement on next steps.

The exercise will also look more closely at the Terms of Reference of other like-minded organisations such as IWI, INE, NIWE to ensure that we are not duplicating any activity

SH to share his database of EU Policies that may be something we can look to influence, or provide a consultation response to in the future. For example, the Cohesion Policy is currently under review and will probably be subject to a consultation soon.

Rudy suggested that we should try to get invited by the European Union to discuss this subject (suggestions on key DG areas welcome).





































16:00 Events

·   Evaluation of the Inland Waterways Pavilion at BOOT Düsseldorf – Rudy van der Ween

·   Meeting Inland Navigation Europe (DG Move) – Stephen Higham

VNF is a member of it. BWW used to be a member of it. But it is quite expensive. 2-3 people working there in an office in Brussels. Their focus is on the TENT waterway network but they want to review their Terms of Reference and focus more on smaller waterways in order to expand their own membership. Karin de Schepper will come next time and explain about it in our NIWE meeting. NIWE could become a member. We might have to pay a little bit more.

All members agreed to further investigate the possibility.


·   World Canal Conference 2018 – Stephen Higham

Steve  10-12 September organised by Waterways Ireland. Promotion on BOOT Dusseldorf. VNF and CRT are going to this event







  16:30 Coffee break  
17:00 Projects

·    Blue HuBs by Sabine Denissen

NSR project – she will apply in September. The partnership will stay as it is. All partners need to work on the content. Bremerhaven is still a partner. And now we have pilots in every country which is an advantage. The presentation of Sabine is attached.

·    Interreg Europe Bid (Renaissance of secondary waterways) by Stephen Higham

There will be another call for projects. The project application is completed so little work is required. We are still struggling for a lead partner. Steve will contact the original consortium to gauge interest and also check the timescales for the next call.

·    End of boat life by Manon van Meer

The project proposal was rejected but not due to the content. We will reapply but change the partnership and the budget als the national contact point proposed.











17:30 Partner update

CRT – Greenwin project is submitted and has received a Stage 1 pass. Stage 2 currently in development. This is a great project as it includes involvement from CRT, VNF, and Waterways Ireland, and is a good example of how NIWE has worked together to develop a successful bid.

Arise; Wellbeing project submitted as a project, if approved Steve will send it out for interested partners.

A template will be send to all partners to fill in their projects. These projects will be published on the website. In the future it will be expanded with all known surveys per partner.









18:00 Closing

Next meeting in June in Bremerhaven if possible. Sabine will make inquiries with Franceska. If not, the meeting will be hosted by CRT in London.


Action list

Number Action Person responsible
1 Frederic requests for the name of the boss of Le Boat who lives in Bordeaux Rudy will send his details to Frederic
2 Informing the partners about the project Waterways Tourism flow application. Thomas
3 Audit; compose questionnaire and send to the secretariat/partners


4 Inland Navigation Europe (DG move) cooperation NIWE


5 Blue Hubs full application


6 Renaissance of secondary waterways finding ead Partner


Steve and all
7 End of Boat life expression of interest


8 List of funding projects per partner


9 List of surveys per partner (knowledge centre)