Flanders and France commit to Seine-Scheldt project

Summary

The French prime minister has declared his commitment to improving the link that will help large inland barges move more easily across Europe

Improved access to markets

Flanders’ minister-president Geert Bourgeois and mobility minister Ben Weyts said they were pleased with the recent commitment by the French government to improve the Seine-Scheldt link by deepening the Seine-Nord canal.

Former Flemish transport minister Hilde Crevits signed a treaty last October that paved the way for the creation of a new inland shipping corridor to link the Seine with the Scheldt. France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, recently declared his country’s commitment to the project during a visit to the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.

The main work to be done in Flanders involves the Leie and the Ringvaart waterway around Ghent as well as the construction of a new lock at Terneuzen (pictured). Once the corridor has been built, Flemish harbours are expected to benefit from improved access to large potential markets in Paris and northern France.

The project forms part of the EU’s ambitious Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T), which aims to develop an efficient network of roads, railways, canals, rivers and airports across Europe. The Seine-Scheldt link, which will be partly funded by the EU, is an important component of the plan, allowing large inland barges to move goods more easily across Europe.

The new government of Flanders is determined to tackle chronic road congestion in the region by improving water-based transport. Now that the French government has given the green light, Flanders can begin work in 2017 with an expected completion date of 2023.

“Our roads are saturated, which means we have to make the maximum use of waterways to carry freight,” said Weyts.

Photo courtesy Port of Ghent

The French prime minister has declared his commitment to improving the link that will help large inland barges move more easily across Europe.

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