Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020
Interviews, opinions PDF  | Print |

Prof. Jerzy Buzek

President of the European Parliament

Jerzy BuzekIncreasing the amount of use of the Oder river and Gliwice Waterway is a good chance that may fulfill their role as promoter of economic growth not only of regional economies, but also of large parts of Europe.

Already in 1999, at the time of my work at the head of Polish government, I, together with the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic found a lack of cooperation in promoting the use of the Oder River as an important part of the European waterway network.

I believe it is a good time to continue with the current work on the Oder river and in future use of river water supplies due to its strategic location in Europe and for regional economic development. 

(From a letter addressed to the waterway conference in Opole, Poland, April 14, 2010)


Karla Peijs

EU coordinator for inland waterways

Closer Integration of European Waterways – a Priority of 21st Century

Karla Peijs

The European Commission pays an extraordinary attention to a well–balanced evolution of the whole transport system. In this evolution, inland shipping has an important role. Generally, one appreciates inland shipping as an economical, reliable and safe kind of transport. This is important especially in the sphere of container transport as well as for transport of hazardous and dangerous goods. At present, one appreciates also the fact that inland waterways offer a high capacity and are free of congestions. They can effectively contribute to the diversion of transport flows from the congested roads and motorways and sometimes even rail connections. This diversion is very advisable not only for economic reasons. It brings also environmental benefits, because inland vessels produce less pollution and noise and cause substantially fewer accidents than trucks. Also for recreational reasons waterways can be very important.

That is why, together with my French and Belgian counterparts, I am working hard to achieve the rapid realisation of the Seine – Nord project, part of the Trans European Networks (TENs). This will create, within six years, an excellent inland waterway link enabling – together with an application of container vessels – a diversion of important share of traffic from the motorway Paris – Brussels-Antwerp-Rotterdam and a total transport of 30 million tons per year.

In this respect, I must stress that interesting opportunities of this kind of transport seem to be not sufficiently utilized in Central and East Europe. I believe – nevertheless – that only a direct and short waterway connection between the Danube River and important sources and goals of traffic flows in the Central Europe (Upper Silesia, region of Berlin, seaports as Hamburg, Bremen and Szczecin) could significantly contribute to the necessary valorisation of the almost boundless capacity of the Danube River. Such connection can increase the desirable integrity of the network in the Central and Eastern Europe in the best way. 

I believe – at last – that this project (water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe) has a very similar importance as the mentioned Seine – Nord Europe connection. It would be – therefore – reasonable to start at present with a relevant preparation of this project and to start with its realization as fast as possible. In this way, one could speak about a reasonable and continuous development of the EU network. All with respect to environmental assets of the respective regions. I wish a full success to promoters of this excellent idea.


Stanislav Mišák

Governor of Zlín Region, Czech Republic

Libor Lukáš

Statutory Deputy of the governor of Zlín Region and former Governor of the Zlín Region, Czech Republic

Water as an Indispensable Gift of the Earth

Stanislav MišákWater is a gift of the Earth, which represents a huge source of energy, constantly renewed from the largest source of energy - from the Sun .... On the management of this gift, there is a need to consult comprehensively in separable aspects. 

How many countries in Europe have got in their territories rivers which go to the three world's seas? Czech Republic can be proud of such a geographic position. At first glance, it appears that the water connection of Oder, Elbe, Danube and Morava rivers is the right choice. 

The linking of these three rivers and three seas (Danube-Oder-Elbe, the DOE) has recently re-enter the so-called "cyclic interest" of society. Already in the accession treaty of the Czech Republic to the European Union was the waterway Danube - Oder - Elbe referred to as one of the possibilities to organize waterways in Europe. 

Finally, the disastrous floods in Moravia in 1997 led to a Libor Lukášreassessment of the functionality of this waterway, which was until then only seen as single-purpose traffic way. 

The importance of the D-O-E water corridor is at European level. It will be used by river and river-sea vessels from all over Europe. Cargo and passenger ships could significantly cut the way from the Baltic Sea and inland ports (the port of Szczecin, Wroclaw and Berlin) to the Danube (Vienna and Bratislava) and the Black Sea (Konstanz). To the land transport, both road and rail would be added with water transport, which in terms of air pollution is much more environmentally friendly. The waterway system can be used to regulate the water level, which allows for both flood protection, but also brings the possibility of capturing water, which as strategic reserve will be increasingly lacking and may be dramatically needed in the forthcoming years. In connection with the construction and operation of the D-O-E water corridor will result new jobs, improved transport accessibility of the whole region and its development. Waterway also generates specific products close to tourism, especially in family recreation. 

DOE, however, is one of the few truly European projects focusing on major events in the environment and transport infrastructure, which is at the disposal of Czech Republic, and which can obtain up to 85% of investment costs from the Cohesion Fund. But opponents also point out the partial adverse effects of implementation and operation of the D-O-E water corridor to natural and landscape values. The water corridor D-O-E when performed in high quality standards may have very positive environmental features.


Jiří Lajtoch

Senator and Lord Mayor of the city of Prerov, Czech Republic

Jiří Lajtoch

The city council supports the project of water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe. It is one of developing visions of the city. The city has based  its development on its convenient traffic location. We want to link road, rail, air and water transport. The water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe is drawn in the zoning plan for the city. If it was built, the city of Prerov would increase its importance. 

For real fulfillment of that vision we will probably need to do a lot of work, various assessments and analysis, but it is certainly necessary  to make final decision within a reasonable time frame, because the city of Prerov builds its further development on good transport infrastructure I believe that the Moravian part of the project - Waterway Danube - Oder, is not so expensive and would be co-financed from European sources. Prerov's logistic center would be then truly unique in Central Europe. 

In short, I believe in the implementation of the water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe.


Martin Kolařík

Prerov City Councilor (2006-2010, Vice-chairman of Regional Council of the Green Party), Czech Republic

Martin Kolařík

In context with the project of Danube - Oder - Elbe water corridor different comparisons of water, road and rail transport appear. Comparisons of the economy, carrying capacity and other criteria, but very often forgets one important difference, which is for me, eco-minded man, significant. Please try to imagine international motorway or railway. At these traffic arteries only death , noise and dust from heavy traffic dominate. No matter if you imagine the spring, summer or winter - all living organisms, which attempt to share this space are run over, crushed, destroyed. Highway and railway bodies are made of dead materials, which don't give many chances for life. Road and rail corridors creating a scar in the landscape, that permanently adversely affecting the environment in its vicinity.

Would anyone of you like to own a house with a garden lying close to a busy highway or rail corridor?

At waterways is situation fundamentally different. Water is the lifeblood and waterway and its surrounding area remains even under heavy traffic constantly living space suitable for recreation, fishing and the lives of many animals and plants. Body of waterway is self-repair living organism, with many more functions than just transportation. Property near waterways are gaining value.

Unlike road and rail, water corridors can be build up so that the environmentally beneficial functions of waterway were most highlighted, while the adverse impacts of the construction and its operation can be suppressed to a minimum. The experiences from building of modern waterways in Western Europe show that the positive effects on the environment can significantly outweigh the negative ones. Shallow coastal areas, swimming lakes, revived river dead arms and restored floodplain forests, as well as riparian vegetation appropriate shrubs and trees create new habitats for birds, aquatic animals and human. Waterways become a place for active holiday, cycling and recreation. Waterways which are sensitively set into the landscape are a living organism like trees. We probably don't need to polemize about importance of trees for the environment and humans. Like trees, also waterways provide humidity, a place to rest, building materials, energy, shelter for animals, natural environment for plants, regulate temperature of their surroundings and help to damp extreme climatic fluctuations.

Do you still think that waterways can be described as non-ecological and for the environment worse alternative than for example rail transport?

For the above reasons I support the project of the Danube - Oder - Elbe water corridor and I will try to keep an eye on that it remains the most environmentally friendly in future and will use its potential for the benefit of men and nature.


Vojtěch Mynář

Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Ostrava, Czech Republic

Vojtěch MynářMultipurpose water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe brings long-term development for the city of Ostrava and undoubtedly many advantages and opportunities. It combines the advantages of the water balance management and stability - offset potential impacts of global climate changes, flood protection, improving water conditions surrounding landscape, the environment and ultimately use of renewable energy, green transport, energy and transport security State diversification of supply of strategic raw materials. Its influence on further dynamic development in all areas of Ostrava is irreplaceable.

Water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe certainly offers a experience for lovers of water sports and fishing. Its route passes through areas and regions with rich cultural and natural heritage. DOE promises significant benefits for business and industry in nearby of the waterway. After its completion, it will significantly contribute to economic development and improved quality of life in the vicinity of DOE corridor.

Support these objectives provide crucial companies in the region. The construction would significantly address the unemployment. We are preparing an exhibition on this topic.

Aleksander Marek Skorupa

The Polish Government Plenipotentiary for the Program for the Oder-2006, Lower Silesian Voivod, Poland

Aleksander Mark Skorupy

Government's long-term program "Program for Odra - 2006", which was established in 2001, covers the tasks on flood protection, environmental protection and clean water, removal of flood damage, prevention planning, and restoration of ecosystems, increasing forest cover, maintenance and development of inland waterways and use of rivers energy. Action area of the Plenipotentiary covers the whole basin of the Oder river in Poland, which is administratively located in the eight provinces.

European project to create a water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe (D-O-E) from the beginning has the full support of the Polish Government and the Government Plenipotentiary for the Program for the Oder - 2006. The idea of connecting these waterways fits perfectly into the concept of the current program, as well as an update is currently being drafted, which envisages improvement of the transport function of the river Oder. Many of the tasks planned and executed of the program is aimed at improving inland navigation (such as improvement of the navigability of the free-flowing stretch of the Oder river, the construction of navigation lock and dam Malczyce, construction and upgrading weirs), and thus the subsequent use in the context of international waterways. Construction of water corridor D-O-E will allow connection of upgraded Oder Waterway, which is part of the waterway E-30 and the Central European Transport Corridor (CETC), to the Black Sea by the Danube river and to the North Sea by the Elbe river, which will certainly contribute to the sustainable development of regions on Oder, better economic integration with EU countries, and also will reduce emissions, including greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It should be remembered that inland navigation is one of the cleanest, cheapest, safest and least energy-intensive transport modes and is fully compliant with the EU transport policy. In addition, shipping infrastructure have other important functions, such as water reservoirs supplying the waterways during the low water period can also be used as flood control and recreational features contributing thus to the development of tourism in the region.

Reservoirs and weirs also create new habitats, thus increasing the surface area valuable for nature and attractive to tourists, as well as allow the energy use of rivers, resulting in reduced emissions to air pollution from conventional sources. All the benefits of the project of creating a European water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe, which will contribute to the development of trans-European transport network (TEN-T), indicate that efforts should be made for this purpose with all determination. Certainly, this would equate to a faster and more sustainable economic development while respecting the environment and natural values in this part of Europe.


Wojciech Bosak

Deputy Director of the Regional Water Management Office in Krakow, Poland

Wojciech BosakRegional Water Authority (RZGW) in Krakow, as manager of the Upper Vistula waterway, with great interest observe the activities and works related to the planned development of waterways. Currently, it covers up the "transport development strategy," Polish documents sent to the European Commission concerning the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), involvement in the projected corridor CETC-Route 65 (the so-called Declaration of Szczecin on 31 July 2010 supporting initiative to create a central European transport corridor) and water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe.

In the case of "Transport Development Strategy" (coordinator Ministry of Infrastructure) in part to the inland waterway transport is expected to include waterways and ports into European system of waterways. We advocate the adoption of a strategic direction for transport policy and environmental policy by the Government of the Republic of Poland. We strive for acceptance of the concept of Silesia waterway construction and eventual continuous extension of the existing Upper Vistula waterway to the north (Niepołomice, Sandomierz) in strategic documents of the Polish state and the European Union.

Opening the Upper Vistula waterway to the west is the objective of construction of the Silesian waterway, which connects the upper section of the Upper Vistula waterway with the projected Oder waterway system. Silesian waterway was noted in studies until 1970 as a Oder-Vistula waterway. South variant, which in our view should be adopted, would be a branch of the preparing Oder - Danube connection (by water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe) using valley of river Ruda - a tributary of the Oder river, and the valley of the Gostynki river in the basin of Vistula river. The waterway would be about 90 km long and would join at the lowest cost regions of Małopolska and Silesia to the Baltic Sea and the Western European waterway network.

It should be noted that the adoption of these investments to be implemented - opening the Upper Vistula waterway to the west, east and north - will create the connection of port in Kedzierzyn-Kozle with Upper Vistula (to Krakow, Sandomierz and Niepołomice) and parallel reactivation of waterway E-70 Warta-Oder-Vistula to Gdansk. Connecting of Silesian waterway to water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe will connect Gdansk seaport by waterways not only with Bratislava, Vienna or Budapest, but also with Krakow by route through Bydgoski waterway, Warta and Oder rivers and Silesian waterway. There will be a connection of these waterways by the river Oder to the Baltic Sea, by the Danube to the Black Sea, by the Elbe to the North Sea and the connection of the Upper Vistula waterway into the European waterway network.


Dr. Jan Pyś

Director of Navigation office in Wroclaw, Poland

Jan PyśA long time has passed since the inception of the idea of building a waterway connecting three rivers Danube, Oder and Elbe. I am sure that with the end of the dramatic history of Central Europe disappeared all obstacles in completion this major investment.

Water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe is needed not only for the countries through which will lead, but also for the European Union. It is an important missing part of the transport network essential for further economic development of the European Union. With construction of the water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe European Union will receive not only new, cheap and environmentally friendly transport route, but also flood protection. It would be the evidence that the economic development in Central Europe is an important part of EU economic policy.

With sailor greetings to all people on the rivers,                                                                director of Navigation office in Wroclaw, Dr. Jan Pyś


David J. Ballinger

President of Inland Waterways International, Canada

David J. BallingerOur organization Inland Waterways International brings together people and organizations who support the conservation, use, development and proper management of navigable inland waterways worldwide.

It is our understanding that all development is blocked because of the feared impacts the development of these waterways may have on the environmental and ecological integrity along the corridor, in the communities and catchments. Inland Waterways International is not only supportive of waterways and navigation, but also of their proper management which means operating them in an environmentally sustainable manner. It is our view that sustainable economic growth should not be replaced by absolute environmental protection. Both contribute to a country’s wellbeing.

Water transport provides many obvious economic opportunities including the fact that the water used is a renewable resource. It is used for navigation, power generation and water transfer as it flows from its source, and may be recycled by back-pumping (using surplus off-peak energy). The other transportation alternatives available are known to be significantly less attractive, environmentally and economically. Waterways could provide an opportunity for strong leadership in developing sustainable transport solutions which maximize the use of inland water transport, bearing in mind its strategic economic advantages combined with low environmental impact. It is the position of Inland Waterways International that it is not in the best interests of any party to reject outright changes or improvements to waterways that result in better transportation and trade connections to the world.

The issues and concerns now being identified in the Czech Republic are the same as in other countries and jurisdictions, including Europe and North America: in first place the drive to reduce transport by road. We are aware of work and research being done in the last few years by the Czech Ministry of Transport and others which we feel shows leadership in accepting the challenges related to environmental issues and concerns when building and improving waterways for navigation. 

We urge to accept the challenge of ensuring that future waterway or canal developments and improvements are done in a manner that is acceptable to the Czech Republic and the majority of its citizens. With a history of waterway engineering to the highest standards – examples for the world – the Czech Republic could develop and showcase the solutions proposed today, engineered and natural, in order to mitigate environmental impacts, while at the same time acknowledging the strategic and economic importance of inland water transport.

To reject improvements or new construction on principle, without full and proper debate, could result in a diminishing economic and environmental opportunity for European countries.