On 17 March 2016 the Netherlands presidency reached an informal deal with the European Parliament on the revision of the directive concerning technical requirements for inland waterway vessels.
The revised draft directive sets out how the EU will apply the technical standards developed by the European Committee for drawing up standards in the field of inland navigation (CESNI), which was set up under the auspices of the Central Commission for Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) on 3 June 2015.
Inland waterway vessels that want to obtain a Union certificate and navigate on Europe's inland waterways will have to comply with these technical standards.
The technical standards from CESNI will not only be incorporated into EU legislation, but will also become applicable on the river Rhine, thereby harmonising technical requirements for inland waterway vessels within Europe.
In the current situation, both the EU and the CCNR apply their own technical requirements, which are almost but not quite identical. This results in legal uncertainty and administrative burdens for the inland navigation sector.
CESNI adopted a first standard of technical requirements on 26 November 2015. Its detailed specifications range from the provisions regarding shipbuilding and equipment to provisions applicable to craft operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG). The requirements relating to LNG, which did not exist before, will facilitate the use of this alternative fuel in inland navigation.
The draft directive is part of a number of measures aimed at making better use of Europe's inland waterways (NAIADES II package).
The presidency will present the agreed text for approval by member states' ambassadors at a meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee on 23 March. To conclude the procedure, formal adoption by both the Council and the Parliament is required.