The international FAIRway Danube project, co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and coordinated by viadonau, will come to an end at the end of 2021. At the last big joint meeting of the partners from the participating Danube countries – the final event on the 21st of October in Romania – the mood was not one of farewell but of departure. Building on the successes of the highly regarded project, the joint “tuning” of the Danube waterway continues.
Successful projects point to successes, outstanding ones pave the way for further successes. FAIRway Danube is one of the latter. Launched in 2015 with the ambitious main goal of improving fairway conditions along the entire Danube, the project’s long to-do list soon became a road to success with a number of notable milestones in harmonising fairway information and service standards on the Danube, thanks to the intensive commitment of the EU and the representatives of the waterway administrations: In addition to the feasibility study for the rehabilitation of the Gabčíkovo lock in 2015 and the preparation of national action plans and status reports on the state of the waterway in the individual Danube countries, FAIRway Danube also delivered tangible successes: In Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, a total of 37 gauging stations, five surveying vessels and four marking vessels were installed or put into service as part of the project. Based on the model of the WAMS – Waterway Asset Management System – developed with viadonau in Austria, the transnational waterway monitoring system WAMOS was also launched.
FAIRway Danube – The Final Event
All these successes and more were duly celebrated (albeit in compliance with strict Covid-19 measures) at the final event in Bucharest and Giurgiu on the 21st of October. Together with the colleagues from ILR Logistica Romania SRL, the event started in the logistics centre of their flagship project High Performance Green Port Giurgiu. This project is also EU co-financed and makes an important contribution to reducing the infrastructural quality gap between Lower-Danube- and Upper-Danube-countries. The project coordinators as well as the beneficiaries of the project thanked CINEA and DG MOVE for their support since the project start in 2015 until the completion of the port in March 2021.
After the on-site visit of the High-Performance Green Port Giurgiu, the participants could take part in a boat trip on the FAIRway Danube vessels “OSAM” and “Concordia EU 2019”.
After a short break, the participants gathered at the Sheraton Bucharest Hotel for the last FAIRway Danube Advisory Committee Meeting. There, the European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean underlined the impressive results achieved by the Action for the inland waterway sector. She thanked all member states involved and outlined the European Commission’s goal to reduce its emissions by 90% by 2050. This is not possible to be achieved without a successful inland waterway system. She mentioned that this is the reason why CEF Actions such as FAIRway Danube are extremely important. The Director of CINEA Dirk Beckers, emphasised that the project led to tangible results. He praised the long-term vision, the solid coordination and the cooperation between all actors and made clear that exactly this commitment is important for future progress. The European Coordinator for the Rhine-Danube Core Network, Inés Ayala Sender, who was present on site, also praised the excellent work of the project partners and highlighted the importance of maintaining the river in good navigation condition for both transport and tourism. Vera Hofbauer from the Austrian Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, outlined that this CEF Action proves that EU funds can be used in an efficient manner, and emphasized that this project was a laboratory for other projects to be designed and put forward such as the CEF funded Gabčíkovo Locks. The FAIRway Danube project coordinator Andreas Bäck then summarised the successes of the project and led into an exciting panel discussion. Finally, the River Administration of the Lower Danube (AFDJ) invited the participants to a working dinner, thus bringing the project to a worthy conclusion.
FAIRwell or well start?
Under these positive auspices, under which FAIRway Danube could be concluded, two follow-up projects are already continuing their work today: While the Austrian-Serbian project FAIRway works!, the rehabilitation of the Serbian lock “Iron Gate 2” (Djerdap II), the upgrading of mooring places in Wildungsmauer and Vienna – the upgrade of the Linz/Mitte dry cargo mooring place has already been completed – and further service vessels are on the agenda, “Preparing FAIRway 2 works in the Rhine-Danube corridor” focuses primarily on the joint Croatian-Serbian Danube route. In addition, the further development of WAMOS is being promoted and berths in Austria, Croatia and Serbia are also being planned. With all this in mind: A big THANK YOU to everyone who has made FAIRway Danube a success! We’ll be back!
Andreas Bäck (Project Coordinator)
via donau – Österreichische Wasserstraßen-Gesellschaft mbH
Donau-City-Straße 1, A-1220 Vienna
Tel: +43 (0) 50 4321-1609
Claudiu Dutu (Project Dissemination)
AFDJ – River Administration of the Lower Danube Galati
Galati, 32 Portului Street, Romania
Tel: +40 (36) 460016