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Mobility and Transport

Social dimension

The potential benefits of inland navigation can only be brought about if a skilled workforce is available to ensure that the sector can take on its role in the value chain. The sector is however facing challenges in terms of labour mobility and labour shortage.

Directive (EU) 2017/2397 on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation and its implementing and delegated acts sets up a harmonised system for recognising qualifications applying to all deck crew members working on European Union inland waterways. It allows crew members to exercise their profession in a cross-border environment in an easier way as the Union certificates of qualification are valid on all inland waterways throughout the Union. Certificates, service record books and logbooks issued in accordance with the regulations for Rhine navigation personnel, which lay down requirements that are identical to those of the directive, are also valid on all EU waterways. Any non-EU country may apply to the European Commission for recognition of their certificates issued by its authorities. The Directive builds on a modern competence-based system that will increase safety and improve the attractiveness of the profession. Member States have to bring into force the national laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 17 January 2022.

In that context, they have notified the information below to the Commission:

  1. Exemptions related to national inland waterways that are not linked to the navigable network of another Member State (Article 7(3)) 
  2. Inland waterways with a maritime character (Article 8(2))
  3. Stretches of inland waterways with specific risks and related requirements (Articles  9(2) and 20)
  4. Approved training programmes (Article 19(5)
  5. Approved simulators (Article 21(5))
  6. Competent authorities (Article 26)
  7. Non-EU countries whose documents have been recognised as valid on all Union inland waterways (Article 10(2) and (3))

In June 2021, the European Commission adopted the Communication NAIADES III “Boosting future-proof European inland waterway transport". It provides the Commission action plan for 2021-2027 to support the developments of inland waterway transport, and incorporate the EU Green Deal Objectives and the Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy. A dedicated section outlines the main challenges for more attractive and sustainable jobs in inland waterway transport. Among the key measures of the action plan, the Commission will assess the need for legislative initiatives for on-board digital tools for recording and exchanging information on crews and vessels, as well as on crewing requirements for better harmonisation at EU level.


Useful links

Directive (EU) 2017/2397 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017 on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation and repealing Council Directives 91/672/EEC and 96/50/EC

Directive (EU) 2021/1233 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 July 2021 amending Directive (EU) 2017/2397 as regards the transitional measures for the recognition of third-country certificates

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/473 of 20 January 2020 supplementing Directive (EU) 2017/2397 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the standards for databases for the Union certificates of qualification, service record books and logbooks

Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2020/12 of 2 August 2019 supplementing Directive (EU) 2017/2397 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the standards for competences and corresponding knowledge and skills, for the practical examinations, for the approval of simulators and for medical fitness

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/182 of 14 January 2020 on models in the field of professional qualifications in inland navigation

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/184 of 22 November 2021 amending Annex IV to Directive (EU) 2017/2397 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Inception impact assessment for an initiative on digital tools for inland navigation

Council Directive 2014/112/EU of 19 December 2014 implementing the European Agreement concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time in inland waterway transport, concluded by the European Barge Union (EBU), the European Skippers Organisation (ESO) and the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF)

Council Directive 87/540/EEC of 9 November 1987 on access to the occupation of carrier of goods by waterway in national and international transport and on the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications for this occupation

Central administration of social security for Rhine boatmen

EU social dialogue for inland waterway transport


Education in inland navigation - Edinna

IWT Platform – info brochure on Directive (EU) 2017/2397 in English, German, Dutch and French