Interreg Europe is the funding programme that helps regional and local governments across Europe to develop and deliver better policy by providing opportunities for sharing solutions and policy learning. They want to ensure that government investment, innovation and implementation efforts all lead to integrated and sustainable impact for people and place. This programme builds on its forerunner, Interreg IVC (2007-2013)
The programme offers opportunities for regional and local public authorities across Europe to meet up, demonstrate good practice in their region and share ideas and experience on public policy in practice, therefore improving strategies for their citizens and communities.
An Interreg IVC project Waterways Forward explored the opportunities to reinforce the importance of Inland Waterways for regional economic development. Knowledge exchanges were centred around two overarching topics: climate change and environmental protection and governance. A set of Policy Recommendations was the final and most important output from the 17 Waterways Forward project partners from 13 countries.
Recommendation 10 – Promotion of inland waterways, asked for “Support & funding for an EU-wide inland waterways promotion organisation, covering both transport and recreation” NIWE came about as a direct result of this.
The information below sets out some findings from previous and current EU funded projects NIWE members have participated in or are keeping a keen eye on. We also provide some key documents from other sources that support the importance of this theme and waterway sector.
Waterways Forward (WF)
An INTERREG IVC project running from 2010 to 2012
With 17 partners from 11 or European countries, regions and Norway and Serbia, it explored the opportunities to reinforce the importance of Inland Waterways for regional economic development. The knowledge exchange and experience was centred around two overarching topics: climate change and environmental protection and governance.
Stichting Recreatietoervaart Netherlands (now Waterrecreatie Nederland), Waterways Ireland, Telemark fylkeskommune, Voies Navigables de France, and British Waterways (now Canal & River Trust) were all partners in Waterways Forward.
Partners concentrated on the role of the smaller regional waterways (i.e. less than Class IV), as opposed to the high capacity TEN-T network. However, many of the opportunities and issues discussed were just as applicable to these larger dimension waterways.
Partners ‘suggested a way forward for maximising the contribution that waterways can make to the future of Europe’ and produced a series of outputs. The Paper on Policy Recommendations was the final and most important output. All 11 policy recommendations were fully supported by all 17 WF project partners.
The Policy Recommendations set out suggested adjustments to EU and national, regional, local-level policy measures based on the experience and evidence gathered and discussed by the Waterways Forward partners during the project. The recommendations were developed and agreed at Waterways Forward Coordination Meetings and Master Classes. Partners wrote Regional Action Plans (RAPs) and these findings also served as an input for the recommendations.
There was strong bottom up support for these recommendations and input from relevant policy sectors and businesses on ‘Regional Stakeholder Platforms’ was a good indication of the interest in, and importance of, the topic.
The recommendations were intended to achieve much broader recognition of the scope to boost the socio-economic potential of inland waterways to achieve sustainable regional development. Some modest changes at EU level could help to provide regions with a more consistent and supportive context for regional/local efforts, in turn enabling them to play their part in delivery of the ambitious goals set out in EU2020.
Key outputs and project related evidence: