How should the Danube waterway look in 2022? How should the Danube look as sustainable habitat for people, fauna and flora? And how well equipped are we against flooding? The answers to these important questions can be found in the Action Programme Danube of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), officially presented today by Minister Alois Stöger.

Hans-Peter Wegscheider, Ursula Zechner and Minister Alois Stöger present the new Action Programme

The particularity of the Danube is that it is more than just a river; its multi-faceted use as waterway, transport route, energy source as well recreation area also makes it a natural habitat for a large number of species of fauna and flora. All these elements and particularities of the Danube can be found in the Action Programme Danube presented by Minister Alois Stöger: "Ours is an integrative strategy for a well-balanced development of the Danube, a multi-faceted and dynamic river. For the first time, an Action Programme matches strategic goals for navigation to those for ecology and flood protection. The Danube is not only one of the most environmentally-friendly transport routes of Europe - and therefore an inestimable asset for our industry - but also a recreation area and habitat for millions of people. The new Action Programme is covering these aspects and is complementary to the supra-regional programs such as the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). Because our Danube policy - just like our Danube River - does not stop at our borders."

Tailor-made answers

Ursula Zechner, Section Head in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology, stressed the importance of the participative involvement of relevant interest groups in drafting the Action Programme. This is the only way we can ensure tailor-made responses to versatile claims and requirements. "Until 2022, almost 12 Million Euro will be available for pump-priming. Thus, we could move almost 100 Million Euro, whereas one third should come from EU funding", said Zechner at the press conference.

Implementation optimally prepared

In the coming years, viadonau will provide support and consultancy for the implementation of the Action Programme. Hans-Peter Wegscheider, representing the viadonau Management and Head of Department for Traffic Management explained that implementation projects were already foreseen for many of the planned measures. "A good example is the project FAIRway which has been submitted for funding and in the framework of which seven Danube partners could come together to improve the infrastructure of the waterway", said Wegscheider. The LIFE+ Project "Auenwildnis Wachau" (English translation: Wilderness Wetland Wachau) has already been approved and will benefit domestic tree species and fauna. In terms of flood protection the focus will be even more strongly on a digital command and control system. A prototype testing will be carried out starting at the end of 2015 and the impacts achieved will be presented every two years in biennial progress reports.

Facts and figures Danube Navigation 2014

Still hot off the press, the Annual Report Danube Navigation 2014 in Austria released by viadonau was handed out at the Press Conference. The publication attests to a stable volume of traffic for inland navigation in the past year, in spite of extended low water periods. Domestic traffic on the Danube waterway rose by almost 14% and a 6% increase was registered by locked-through vessels illustrating a continuity of the positive trend of the recent years. The high availability of the waterway with 364 days was the highest in 15 years. Over 100,000 locked-through vessels and 10.1 million tons of goods transported demonstrate the performance potential of Danube navigation as a safe and reliable transport mode.

Click here for more information about the Action Programme and the Annual Report Danube Navigation: <link en newsroom publications folders>