Experts discussed topics that are at the top of the agenda for Danube ports

The fourth Expert Meeting on the development of ports and port operations (EM Ports) was organized by the Danube Commission (DC) on 12 March 2024. The meeting, chaired by Mr. Vuk Perovic, Director of Port Governance Agency, Republic of Serbia, took place in hybrid format and brought together over 70 participants from Danube states, international organisations and Western Europe  for a structured dialogue.

In the first information block, which focused on the policy framework for Danube ports, Ms Wolska, Senior Policy Officer of EC/DG MOVE, updated on main elements of EU inland waterway transport policy, including the NAIADES III study on the sustainable management of inland ports, which was later presented by the project coordinator, Mr Smit of ECORYS, while Mr Fiorito reflected on current and future EU policy initiatives from the perspective of his organisation, the European Federation of Inland Ports (FEPI). Presentations on the work on the Danube Solidarity Lane, which facilitates Ukraine’s cargo flows using the Danube, and an update on the DC’s Danube ports database rounded off this part.

The second information block addressed the implementation of climate goals and energy transition measures with presentations on realistic expectations of alternative fuels for Danube vessels, the project initiative for Green Ports in Serbia and the progress of the EU funded RTD project PIONEERS with its pilot implementation in the port of Constanta.

The third part of the meeting focused on Port Community Systems (PCS) as central instrument for the digitalization of port operations and delivered good practices from the Ports of Switzerland, the Portuguese sea-and river ports and looked into the steps taken by the Port Administration of Constanta to prepare for a PCS. The work of the EU funded RTD project MultiRELOAD as well as the DC initiative to transform the Danube Solidarity Lane into the first fully digital transport corridor between EU and Ukraine were also presented.

The fourth part of the meeting dealt with relevant cooperation activities with presentations of the work of the Transport Community (TCT Belgrade) to improve inland navigation in the Western Balkans and upcoming major inland navigation events (Danube Business Talks on 15 May in Vienna and Danube Ports Days on 29 and 30 October in Budapest). In addition, the audience was informed about a special workshop organised jointly by DC, ISRBC, TCT and DG MOVE with the Port of Brčko (BiH) which is planned to take place end of September.  At the end, DC presented an update on the progress of the “Joint Statement on the Decarbonisation of Danube Ports”  and invited port authorities and port companies to join this initiative.

The next official expert meeting of Danube ports is scheduled for 26 March 2025.

Agenda and all presentations delivered in the meeting can be downloaded: