Danube Decay Hinders Rhine to Leave Shippers Blue

Danube Decay Hinders Rhine Link to Leave Shippers Blue – Freight

European Union plans for a trade artery between the Black and North seas have stalled as an upgrade of the Danube waterway is held up by spats over funding, the environment and immigration, delaying work that would reduce transport costs for companies spanning BASF SE (BAS) to Ford Motor Co. (F).

The bickering has stymied moves to upgrade infrastructure and reverse a drop in water levels in the lower Danube, while comments from right-leaning Dutch politicians have upset plans for Rotterdam port to help modernize Romania’s biggest harbor.

Goods volumes on Europe’s longest river after the Volga are 80 percent lower than on the Rhine, the region’s busiest waterway, according to EU figures. About 45 million metric tons of cargo was transported last year, half the total moved before the disintegration of the Soviet bloc, said Manfred Seitz, director of Vienna-based lobby group Pro Danube International.

“Businesses are desperate,” said Karin de Schepper, general secretary at Inland Navigation Europe in Brussels, which promotes waterborne trade. “They’d like to use the Danube but they can’t so they’re looking at alternatives.”

Rising in the Black Forest in western Germany, the Danube– dubbed “blue” by Viennese composer Johann Strauss in his 1866 waltz — flows for more than 1,750 miles (2,800 kilometers) through 10 European countries. Its catchment area covers one-fifth of the EU and has a population in excess of 100 million.

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