Transport by Inland Waterway

The implementation of EU rules concerning statistics on goods transported by inland waterways has been positive, according to a new Commission Report. The Commission says that Regulation (EC) 1365/2006, which obliges Member States to collect statistics on goods transported by inland waterways, has led to an increase in detailed information on European freight transport by inland waterways and improved data quality. The Report also says that Member States have for the most part met the requirements of the Regulation, and have provided all requested data by the deadlines specified.
 
The Commission is obliged to submit a Report on the implementation of Regulation (EC) 1365/2006 to the European Parliament and the Council. This Report, adopted in March 2010, complies with this requirement.

Background

Data on goods transported by inland waterways was originally laid down in Council Directive 80/1119/EEC. The Commission however felt that this Directive had several shortcomings that prevented adequate monitoring. Regulation (EC) No 1365/2006 was therefore adopted to address these issues.
 
The main requirements of Regulation 1365/2006 are as follows:
• Only Member States in which the total volume of goods transported annually (by inland waterways) exceeds one million tonnes need to supply data.
• The observation periods are quarterly and yearly. 
• Reduced data collection is defined for those Member States where there is no international or transit inland waterways transport.
• Freight data are also collected for container transport.
• There is a simplified classification of vessel types, and a new information field to separate loaded/empty vessels and containers.

Statistical Reporting by Member States

Regulation 1365/2006 requires 13 Member States who meet the criteria listed above. The Member States Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the UK.  The UK however is subject to reduced data provision, as there is no international or transit inland waterways transport.  Although not required by the Regulation, three Member States – Finland, Italy and Lithuania - provide data on a voluntary basis.
 
Furthermore, six Member States – Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary and Romania – also supply optional data on vessel traffic, transport of dangerous goods and the number of accidents on a voluntary basis. Croatia, a candidate country, also provides quarterly data.

Implementation of the Regulation

Compliance with Legal Obligations

The Report found that all Member States delivered mandatory data, and only in some cases did they miss the deadline set by the Regulation. Delays were due mainly to the introduction of new procedures to satisfy the requirements of the Regulation, and are expected to disappear in the near future.
 
Some problems remain for certain Member States. The main issue reported was providing complete transit data. The Commission says that some Member States are already taking corrective measures or have plans to improve their systems to ensure full compliance with the legal requirements.

Burden on Reporting Countries

The vast majority of Member States report that the workload for complying with the Regulation has been acceptable. For many Member States, existing processes have had to be extended or adapted, while in a few situations, a completely new data collection and compilation process has been needed. In very few cases, no relevant measures had to be taken, as the existing processes were sufficient to meet the requirements.

Data Collection, Compilation and Validation Process

The Report found that although data collection and compilation processes differ between Member States, they tend to follow a traditional bottom-up flow of information. Data suppliers also differ from country to country, but the most frequent sources are the port and lock authorities. Member States have also reported that they receive information from a wide range of sources, including custom offices, neighbouring countries and private operators.
 
Most Competent National Authorities (CNA) apply validation checks before sending the information to Eurostat, using internally developed checking procedures. The report found that validation rules cover many aspects of the process including data format, codification, internal consistency of each dataset and consistency between datasets and variables.

Data Transmission and Validation

The Report found that, regarding the technical arrangements for data transmission, a high level of standardisation has been achieved. Data are transmitted electronically to Eurostat using the requested structure for data files and record format, which the Commission says allows rapid integration of the information into the Eurostat production database and early detection of basic errors and unknown codes.
 
Once data have been loaded in the Eurostat production database, detailed validation procedures are applied to control the quality of transmitted data. The validation covers the internal consistency of the datasets, consistency over time, coherence between datasets and a comparison of the results between partner reporting countries. The Commission says that the overall level of data quality can be judged as acceptable, but that efforts are still required to improve the reporting of transit data.

Commission Recommendations

The Report states that efforts should be concentrated on the following issues:
• Improvements to the provision of transit transport data. The Commission says that this can be achieved through improved collaboration between Member States.
• Assistance for Croatia, a candidate country, to ensure that it is complying with EU legislation on inland waterways transport statistics.  
• The progressive introduction of a European register for inland waterway vessels.   
• Consideration given to the collection of new or more detailed variables.
• The extension of the geographical coverage of statistics, possibly due to future EU enlargements and voluntary involvement of non-EU countries and/or international organisations through cooperation agreements.