II. Newsletter

Cooperation with the Danube strategy

The Danube has always been an important factor of Central-European economy. International waterway traffic channels offer inexpensive and efficient transportation methods in order to move heavy cargo, however, because of several technological and regulatory obstructions (navigation restricted to a certain segment of the year, the lack of modern infrastructure, and imperfect regulations) the most efficient utilization of this potential is currently inaccessible. To overcome these complications is a mutual goal within the partnership.

The Danube

Because the better cooperation of Danube countries was already an objective of the European Union, the 2010 launching of the Danube strategy – an agreement between 14 member and one non-member countries – was the rational move in order to enhance unity.

DaHar project with its seven nation partnership is keenly aware of the challenges within the Danube Strategy, especially focusing on the development opportunities of ports and waterways of South-East Europe. We intend to present the planned directions of development of the Danube region by assessing the current situation, attributes and potentials of ports within the area of the partnership.

The strategy includes the 20% increase of heavy traffic in the Danube by 2020 as one of the main goals. It is only possible if waterways are made appealing to various companies by updating infrastructure and changing approach. Besides city ports there is a need for a network of state-of-the-art small and medium sized ports which are easily accessible by road or rail. Only then could the desired situation be achieved, where waterway transport is treated as a real alternative within the logistics of goods and materials.

The selection of locations was carried out in accordance with the abovementioned conclusion (nine ports in seven different countries, in relative distance from each other), and the researches, the development plans and recommendations are all performed in line with the guiding principles of the Danube strategy.

Dahar map

The way to prosperity for riverside cities

Main directions of the project

The main objective of the DaHar project is the better integration of Danube navigation into the logistical network of traffic, thus easing the functional gaps between the concerned cities and the great multimodal centres. For this reason not large riverside metropolises (like Vienna, Budapest or Belgrade), but small and medium sized towns were invited to join the project. For these towns the development of waterway cargo transport means significant economic improvement and has the potential to pave the way to prosperity.

Dunaújváros, Hungary

Lom, Bulgaria

The project determined the following five thematic groups, which serve the basis for local action plans, specific political recommendations and mutual development directions:

  1. The development/construction of logistical infrastructure of ports, port operation models: one obstacle of the realization of the full economic potential of inland navigation regarding the Danube, is outdated and incomplete infrastructure, which at the present is not unusual at some segments of the river. DaHar offers a comprehensive logistics update programme, which could solve these problems of the concerned cities and enterprises.
  2. Enhancing hinterland connections - transport linkages with road and rail: one key element of the desired efficiency of waterway cargo transport is the cooperation with the shipping companies (road and rail) responsible for the transportation of goods in and out of the ports. A modern strategy is necessary to secure the widespread cooperation between the concerned companies of different countries in order to achieve results in the most efficient way.
  3. The integration of ports of small and medium sized cities in the development of Danube container and RoRo liner services: that old-fashioned view, stating that waterway cargo transport concerns only a handful of larger ports of the river, has to be proven wrong by expanding the group of cities, factories, agriculture companies and other enterprises which have access to waterway cargo transport.
  4. RIS related to cargo transport management: the utilization of services offered by River Information Services will result in the optimized efficiency of waterways and the transportation of various goods. The goal is to raise awareness regarding the application of modern technological equipment and its auxiliary softwares in order to exploit the advantages they could offer to the members of the shipping industry.
  5. Navigability & environmental protection: inland waterway cargo transport is the most environmentally friendly method of transporting goods in large volumes. Therefore the development of waterways and the exploitation of its opportunities are in line with the European Union’s related guiding principles and it contributes to the implementation of a long-standing, sustainable transport network.

Achieved results of the project

The primary core output of the project was the creation of an integrated strategy for the functional specialisation in the Danube logistic chain, which in the future will serve as the foundation of local action plans featuring concrete and feasible elements. Mutual planning and efforts are now able to result in tangible investment possibilities provided by the directive regarding inland waterway cargo transport development. The concerned towns will have the potential to attract new capital, new investments and to create new jobs and a dynamic economic environment.

During the first phase of implementation the international partners jointly examined the concerned ports and prepared detailed and comprehensive evaluations (State of the Art studies) regarding the existing situations. In addition, economic-logistics opportunities and inherent deficiencies (IWT Lab studies) were also assessed. These documents are all available at the dahar.eu website.

As a result of further explorations SWOT analyses have been prepared in order to face honestly the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. These studies served as the basis of the summarizing, so-called status quo reports. The reports have been prepared for all nine partner port ranging from Ennshafen of Upper Austria to Galati of the Black Sea. Their content is also available at the official DaHar website.

Ennshafen, Austria

Galati Giurgiu, Romania

The evaluation and assessment phase concluded with the final analysis of the findings, which will be followed by the next, planning and strategy creation segment.

We created five Master Plans based on the five thematic pillars of the project, which have been discussed in Vukovar through a Master Class course by decision makers and company executives of the concerned countries and cities. The purpose was to establish a final strategy which contains and sums up all the suggestions and know-how which were explored by the researches of the DaHar project.

This integrated strategy and the local action plans based on it will be essential for the development of political recommendations which will be presented at the Brussels final conference of the project.

These mutually designed and harmonised goals aimed to improve ports will help the efficient utilization of EU funds intended for development purposes, and the implementation of sustainable waterway cargo transport networks.

Master Class – a high point of the project – Vukovar, 5 March 2013.

The Management Committee of the DaHar project met the second time in the East-Slavonian town of Vukovar in order to evaluate the performed activities and discuss the remaining tasks.

Vukovar, Croatia

The current situation was summed up by Máté Győri project manager. He informed the participants that all State of the Art studies and IWT labs has been successfully concluded and the related professional documents are finished as well. Currently the integrated strategy – incorporating the five Master Plans – is under construction, while the local action plans tailored to the concerned ports are also being prepared.

The trial run of River Information Services (RUS) is also underway. The setup employing satellite technology enables ships to observe each other’s data which is significant for traffic safety, thus making navigation more secure and lessening its dependence of weather conditions.

The meeting also covered current tasks including managing the delay of certain elements, establishing contact with opinion leaders and local heads of the concerned areas, and decreasing the recent budget. The participants have reviewed the half-time report and the current financial situation of the project, and concluded the event with discussing raised questions.

After the Master Class event and the Management Committee meeting the city held thematic group meetings as well, where the Master Class reports and plans were discussed. Main topics of the conversation beyond the forthcoming tasks of the project (finalizing master plans, organizing Support Forums, preparing local action plans, preparing to the Brussels EU presentation) included the main conclusions of Master Class with special emphasis on the issues of navigation, necessary national and international steps, opportunities, infrastructural investments and other organisational duties.

Botond Szalma, navigation specialist Botond Szalma, the Chair of the Master Class has said that the most important development is that as the evaluations have concluded, real and substantial conversation is able to commence. Upon reviewing the results, it turned out that the state of domestic ports is graded mediocre since the infrastructural attributes are slightly less efficient than what the economical environment requires. This conclusion did not come as a surprise for the experts, however, the gathered and classified mass of information will be indispensable for creating a much more comprehensive overview of the current state. The recommendation package composed during the DaHar project could mean a significant leap if the approach is right and the necessary financial resources are made available.

According to Szalma the development recommendations of the Master Plans could mean solutions for the problems of port infrastructure which will last for decades. Danube traffic could be smoothly managed by these ports without installing new, onshore projects. The securing of the navigation conditions (at least 2,5 meters depth in 330 days of the year), which are in accordance with the recommendations of the Danube Committee, is a key issue. If this requirement is fulfilled – major investments and the construction of dams and reservoirs are necessary – the cargo traffic of the river could be increased by 30-40%, not to mention the additional advantages in water management and energy production.

Did you know...?

The Danube

  • that the Danube Delta is the largest of its kind in Europe? Its 3446 km² area is more than six times larger than Budapest.
  • that Istros – the name for the river used in Ancient Greece – means swift, quick flowing?
  • that one of the most extraordinary island of the Danube was Ada Kaleh? Located near the Iron Gates, the island was populated by a predominantly Turkish community until the 20th century. Ada Kaleh – and its mosque – became a victim of the Iron Gate dam’s construction and submerged under the river.
  • that the largest island of the Danube is Csallóköz (its 1886 km2 area located between the Little Danube and Vág-Danube) and the most populated is Csepel Island (a part of Budapest with its 170 000 inhabitants)?
  • that there are only three public bridges across the Iron Gates segment of the Danube? The approximately 300 km long Bulgarian-Romanian border line features only one, the Friendship Bridge between Giurgiu and Ruse.
  • that the river is accompanied by a 2875 km long bicycle route from Donauschingen to the Black Sea? It is 2875 km long.
  • that the first scheduled Danube steam ship started its journey on the 16th of July 1820? However, due to the insufficient volume of passengers, it was shut down already in November.
  • that a permanent waterway (Rhine-Maine-Danube channel) has been developed connecting the Northern Sea with the Black Sea?

Future events:

DaHar support forums:

Dunaújváros, Hungary (May-June 2013)
Galati, Romania (October-November 2013)
Lom (April 2013), Silistra (May-June 2013), Bulgaria
Novi Sad, Serbia
Slovakia (May, September 2013)
Ennshafen, Austria (June 2013)

Brussels conference and workshop (October 2013)

Final conference in Dunaújváros, Hungary (January 2014)


Municipality of Dunaújváros (Leading Partner)
Project manager: László Rédli
H-2400 Dunaújváros, Városháza tér 1.
Telephone/Fax: +36-25-285-940, +36-20-577-3329, +36-20-577-6305
E-mail:dahar [at] pmh [dot] dunanet [dot] hu ( dahar [at] pmh [dot] dunanet [dot] hu)

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