Belgium: Unlocking inland waterways in the heart of Europe with EIB support
13 November 2015
This morning, the EIB took part in the inauguration of the fourth lock in the Belgian town of Lanaye, close to Liege and just across the border from the Dutch city of Maastricht. In the company of several Belgian and Dutch Ministers and EIB Vice President Pim van Ballekom, King Philip of the Belgians officially inaugurated the new 225x25 meter lock, before moving on to open a new river harbour facility called Trilogiport near Liege.
The Lanaye facility is part of a larger EIB financing operation totalling EUR 125 million that also involved the similar new lock further south at Yvoz-Ramet – inaugurated in September - as well as dredging works to deepen the Meuse river between the two locks. With today’s opening, river transport of up to 9000 tonnes (equalling the load of some 450 20-tonne road trucks) can transit from the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp all the way to Liege and Namur. The same operation has made it possible to manoeuver up to four smaller-sized river barges through the lock at any one time, significantly heightening the locks’ capacity and speeding up traffic.
For the EIB, as stated by Vice President van Ballekom, it is a key priority to support the development of sustainable transport networks. Inland water transport is one of the most energy-efficiency and least polluting modes of transport available. It is at the spearhead in the fight against climate change. For this reason and the economic benefits that it will bring along, the opening of the lock of Lanaye is a key milestone for the region at large.
Lanaye actually presented a “missing link” in the Rhine/Meuse-Main-Danube link-up of the European TEN-T programme since 1996. This fact, together with river transport generally being more environmentally friendly per transported tonne than heavy trucks, made that the project also received EU funding.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending USD 120 million to Epicentr Group to support the modernisation of Ukraine’s agriculture and food supply, one of the key sectors of the national economy. The Epicentr Group, one of Ukraine’s largest companies in the home improvement retail and agriculture sectors, will finance new grain silos and elevators, modern agricultural equipment, and grain railcars for transporting cereal. By supporting the modernisation of the agriculture industry in Ukraine, the European Investment Bank is aiming to increase food security and the efficiency of food supply, as well as increasing the sustainability of agricultural practices in Ukraine by way of efficient resource management, increased productivity and the reduction of agricultural waste. This is a key precondition for a modern and globally competitive agricultural sector, which, in turn, will make a significant contribution to curbing global warming.