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Inland Waterways

The Inland Waterways of Europe provide recreational boaters with thousands of kilometers of varied rivers and canals to explore. Many of the waterways are also used by commercial vessels therefore there are rules and regulations governing their use.  The EBA participates at meetings of many of the main regulatory organisations in order to protect the interests of recreational boat users.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Inland Transport Committee Working Party on Inland Water Transport

Resolution 24 – CEVNI – European Code for Inland Waterways

The interconnected European waterways pass through many different countries speaking many different languages. CEVNI provides harmonisation of the rules, signs and procedures across much of the network.

CEVNI is now in its 5th revision which is available from the UNECE web-site. An official publication of revision five of CEVNI is also produced.

Resolution 40 – International Certificate for Operator of Pleasure Craft

The International Certificate for Operator of Pleasure Craft is more commonly known as the International Certificate of Competence (ICC). The ICC allows the holder to voyage internationally where the country the holder is visiting has chosen to accept it and subject to any prescriptions made by the visited country. As the ICC’s validity is determined by the visited country it is not a truly international qualification. However, the ICC is the only international evidence of competence that exists for pleasure boaters in Europe.

Further information about the ICC is available on the ICC page of this web-site.

Comité Européen pour l’Élaboration de Standards dans le Domaine de Navigation Intérieure (CESNI)

The European Committee for drawing up standards in the field of inland navigation is a relatively new working body. It brings together experts from the Member States of the European Union (EU) and the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR), as well as representatives of international organisations with an interest in inland navigation. The goal is better coordination and harmonisation on technical and procedural provisions set out in the EU Technical Requirements for Inland Waterway Vessels (TRIWV) Directive and the CCNR Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations.

CESNI adopts technical standards relating to vessels, information technology and crew which are brought into force by EU and CCNR regulations.

Non-governmental organisations ‘on a European scale with an interest in inland navigation‘ may apply to become an approved organisation with the CESNI. The EBA is an approved organisation and takes an active part in the work carried out in the working groups, in particular CESNI-PT, the working group on technical requirement and its work to develop the European Standard laying down Technical Requirements for Inland Navigation vessels (ES-TRIN).

EU Directive 2016/1629 Technical Requirements for Inland Waterway Vessels (TRIWV)

The TRIWV Directive is the mechanism by which the ES-TRIN standards developed by CESNI are incorporated into EU law. Directive 2016/1629 applies to vessels having a length of 20 metres or more (length means the maximum length of the hull in metres excluding rudder and bowsprit); it also applies to vessels for which the product of length, breadth and draught is a volume of 100 cubic metres or more. A new edition of ES-TRIN is prepared by the CESNI every two years. ES-TRIN 2015/1 was incorporated into EU law by the Directive itself, thereafeter this will be achieved by a Commission delegated act. This allows updates to be made in a more timely manner and co-ordination between the Eureopan Commission and the CCNR means that the same edition will be inforce whether the technical requirements in force are the responsibility of the EU or the CCNR.

The EBA also has CCNR observer status, to ensure it is aware of any River Rhine specific matters of significance to recreational boaters, that may arise.

Regional Arrangement Concerning the Radiotelephone Service on Inland Waterways (RAINWAT)

Through the Basel Arrangement the RAINWAT Committee has introduced and Automatic Transmitter Identification System (ATIS) for vessels making VHF transmissions whilst on the inland waterways of the signatory countries. The regulations are applied to recreational craft including those sailing under the flag of non-RAINWAT countries.

Related documents and links:

EBA Position Statement

Transfer of Inland Waterways from State to Private Ownership or Operation

The EBA is aware that in recent years the financing of State owned inland waterways has come under scrutiny. Increasingly consideration is being given to whether users of inland waterways should pay for the upkeep of the inland waterways rather than them being state funded.

Recreational Boating is one of many activities which utilise inland waterways. There are many users of the waterways, and infrastructure is in place for the benefit of all of those users. Whilst boaters may be the most obvious and often the easiest users to charge, the EBA seeks to ensure that any charges which may be imposed on recreational boaters for the upkeep of previously state funded inland waterways, are proportionate and take into account that there are many users of the inland waterways.

When considering the transfer of inland waterways from the state sector to private ownership or private operation, the EBA urges Governments to consider the interests of boaters and the potential impact changes could have on recreational boating. Rights of access to navigate on inland waterways should be safeguarded.

Changes to charging for use of inland waterways should be carefully managed to ensure that boaters are not ‘priced out’ of their hobby. Fees should be commensurate across all users of inland waterways and it should be clear how the revenue raised from such fees is being spent.

Caution is needed to ensure that regulations do not become unnecessarily fractured across the network at a time when there is significant work being undertaken within the European Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to increase the level of harmonisation.

Recreational boaters, can make significant contributions, to the local economy through water tourism and to the landscape. However, this is dependent on the right environment, making inland waterways attractive to them. Regulations and charges that are difficult to understand or unfair may drive boaters away.

EBA Position Statement

Cruising Boat Tourism on Inland Waterways

The EBA supports in principle any initiative that enhances and facilitates the unhampered movement of recreational boats across member state borders.

Recreational Boating provides an exceptional opportunity for wealth and job creation. The contribution that Cruising Boat Tourism in particular makes to local economies should be given far greater recognition and should not be underestimated. However, money spent by recreational boaters is discretionary; it is therefore particularly sensitive to legislation.

Recreational boaters generally have an adventurous nature and Cruising Boat Tourism will frequently involve remote destinations with the voyage itself being very much a part of the experience. These visitors provide a target market for less frequented destinations wishing to develop their tourist offering.

Many recreational boaters continue to use their boat off season and some owners live aboard all year round, contributing to the local economy on an on-going basis. Cruising Boat Tourism does not cease out of season and the maintenance work that is carried out on the boat if it is laid up for any period also contributes to the local economy. Cruising Boat Tourism is therefore also an important consideration in terms of out-of-season spend.

Very often obstacles to free movement of recreational boats (and Inland Cruising Boats in particular) are caused by nothing more than bureaucracy. The EBA’s position in this regard is entirely consistent with the subsidiarity principle as the EBA would not support any move to harmonise regulations concerning the equipping or manning of small (i.e. less than 20m in length) recreational boats not engaged in trade. That said, the EBA considers it unreasonable to expect a small Inland Cruising Boat engaged in tourism (and not engaged in trade) to adjust its equipment, manning and practices to match differing legislation in each country or region it visits. In order to encourage both intra-EU tourism and to encourage recreational boats to visit from outside the EU, the EBA encourages the recognition of the laws of the boat’s country of registration, rather than the imposition of the laws of the visited country, for visiting recreational boats.

Recreational boaters bring new life to waterways, no longer required for commercial purposes and help isolated waterways and lakes thrive.

Adoption and/or formal recognition by member states of the International Certificate for the Operation of a Pleasure Craft (commonly referred to as the ICC) created under Resolution 40 of the UNECE Inland Transport Committee would greatly ease the movement of recreational boats between member state borders.

The EBA supports the adoption and recognition by individual national Governments, not only those of EU member states, of any initiative that facilitates unhampered movement of recreational boats as a prime enabler for nautical tourism. Cruising Boat Tourism should be encouraged, not hampered by regulation.

The EBA would support the introduction of touring visa to enable long-term non-EU tourists to remain in the Schengen area for a period of up to one year (renewable for a further period of one year).

The EBA will:

  • Encourage its members to recommend full adoption of Resolution 40 to their respective governments where they have not already done so.
  • Work towards recognition of the ICC as a reasonable and appropriate certificate of competence for an operator regardless of Flag State.
  • Work with its members to gather information on the regulations applicable to visiting foreign recreational boats and encourage the publication of this information on national Government web-sites.

The EBA will not support any proposal which seeks to impose unreasonable additional regulatory burdens or controls on recreational boaters not engaged in trade.