End of June 2022, the European Commission announced the allocation of a new grant of €276 million for the Seine-Scheldt project, the largest European inland waterway network project, under the 1st call for projects of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the period 2021-2026. This grant follows on from the first ones awarded for the periods 2007-2013 (€176m) and 2014-2020 (€539m). Following this announcement, the partners of the Seine-Scheldt European Economic Interest Group (EEIG), who submitted the application for this call for projects, worked this summer to draw up a new financing agreement, in close collaboration with the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA).
This funding agreement, named “Grant Agreement”, was signed on 14 October 2022. Marie-Céline Masson, manager of the Seine-Scheldt European Economic Interest Group (EEIG) and Territorial Director for the Nord Pas-de-Calais region of Voies navigables de France (VNF), sincerely thanks CINEA and all the partners. This new essential step demonstrates, once again, the power of collective work and the importance of the challenges in making a major investment (more than 10 billion € committed over 2004-2030) for the mobility of goods and people, for the economic development and the ecological transition of the territories.
Thanks to the modernisation and regeneration of existing canals and the construction of the Seine-Nord Europe Canal, a new 107 km river link between the Seine and Escaut basins, Seine-Escaut will become Europe’s leading wide-gauge river transport network (1,100 km), suitable for the passage of vessels carrying up to 4,400 tonnes of goods (the equivalent of 220 lorries) over a territory of 40 million inhabitants in France and Belgium. It will guarantee a new multimodal, efficient and sustainable transport offer and will generate more than 175,000 jobs during and after the construction period. It will offer a modal shift to waterways (rivers or canals), which will help to achieve the transport decarbonisation objectives set by the European Green Deal.
The European aid will in particular help finance:
- The end of the studies for the Bray-Nogent large-gauge river link project and the reconstruction, extension or renovation of 13 locks and 6 dams on the Seine;
- The calibration studies for the Dunkerque-Valenciennes canal, the end of the reopening of the Condé-Pommeroeul canal, the modernisation work on section 1 of the Lys and the extension work on the Quesnoy-sur-Deûle lock on the Nord Pas-de-Calais network;
- Studies to improve the crossing capacities of the Upper Scheldt, the launch of the upgrading of the Walloon Dorsal, the development of the Sambre and the rehabilitation of the Ronquières inclined plane in Wallonia;
- The continuation of the work on the upgrading of the Lys, the launch of the upgrading of the Roeselare-Lys canal, the construction of bridges on the Seneffe-Antwerp section and the studies aimed at improving the links with the seaport of Zeebrugge in Flanders.
The EEIG will propose new projects to the European Commission during the future CEF 2022 and 2023 calls for projects, in order to continue to support the implementation of the Seine-Scheldt project.