The working group on technical matters of the DC held its session in Budapest

On 12-13 October 2023, the Danube Commission (DC) held a regular meeting of the working group on technical matters. The meeting, chaired by Mr Norman Gerhardt, (Germany), was attended by the delegations of the DC Member States, representatives of international organizations, as well as the leadership, counsellors and experts of the DC Secretariat.

In his opening remarks, the Director-General of the Secretariat Mr. Manfred Seitz highlighted the key tasks of the Danube Commission in the current situation of Danube navigation, stressing the particular importance of the various coordination activities conducted by the DC to support Ukrainian enterprises of the Danube cluster for the export of agricultural products of Ukraine and the import of goods it needs within the framework of the EU – Ukraine Solidarity Lanes initiative.

The delegation of Ukraine informed the meeting about the ongoing massive air attacks by the Russian aggressors on the infrastructure of the Ukrainian Danube ports, agricultural and civilian facilities, stressing that even under these critical conditions, the ports of the Ukrainian Danube cluster continue to work actively, which is crucial for ensuring global food security. The delegation of Ukraine expressed its gratitude to the DC Member States for their political support, as well as their support for increasing the export capacity of the Danube cluster.

During the two days of debates, the working group covered several topics under the main sections of its agenda:

Navigation: implementation of the new version of DFND-2023, adopted in June 2023, updating the Local Rules of Danube Navigation, strategic development of RIS systems and cybersecurity in Danube navigation. Professional requirements for crew and vessel personnel were treated separately, through the process of implementation of the Directive (EC) 2017/2397 in Danube navigation.

Technology, including radio communication: implementation of the ES-TRIN standard in Danube navigation and the Danube Commission’s involvement in updating this standard within the CESNI/PT Committee, as well as the follow-up to the new DC Recommendations for ensuring the security of navigation on the Danube and radio communications.

Fleet modernization: discussions on the updated draft “Working Platform of the Danube Commission for fleet modernization”, in line with the European Green Deal. This platform provides possible scenarios for a consistent reduction of harmful emissions, achieving climate neutrality and improving fleet energy efficiency, transition to alternative fuels and new propulsion system, as well as vocational training in the field of “eco-navigation”. The Working Group supported the Secretariat’s proposal to develop a Road map for the fleet modernization in Danube navigation, based on the Working Platform, and to include this topic in further Danube Commission’s work plans.

Hydrotechnics and hydrometeorology: updates of the Plan for major works on the achievement of recommended fairway parameters, hydrotechnical and other facilities on the Danube,  revision of the TEN Regulation concerning the development of inland waterways, the use and development of the Danube Commission’s databank, as well as the issuance of special DC publications on the hydrology of the Danube waterway.

Operation and Environment: follow-up on the DC Recommendations for organizing the collection of ship-generated waste in Danube navigation and planning of the next meeting of experts on this issue,  analysis of the outcomes of the 14th Meeting on the Follow-up of the Joint Statement on Guiding Principles on the Development of Inland Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin( DC, ICPDR and ISRBC), as well as the participation in different projects on environmental protection of the Danube basin.  The Working Group also considered participation in cross-border cooperation projects: TEN-T, the implementation of the DAVID forms in Danube navigation and the RIS COMEX electronic platform. The meeting addressed a wide array of topics related to the development of freight and passenger transport, ports and logistics services on the Danube.

Statistics and Economics: preparation of the DC working documents on economic analysis and statistics were introduced in the section. The meeting provided deliverables of the Market Observation for Danube Navigation – the results of the first quarter and the first half of 2023, as well as information on cooperation with CCNR on the preparation of joint publications on observation of the European inland navigation market (2 editions published in 2023).

Grants. Projects: reports were presented on the projects where the DC acts as a participant – GRANT II, GRANT III, HORIZON 2020-PLATINA 3, HORIZON EUROPE -PLATINA 4.