On 31 May, the Seine-Scheldt Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) met at the Grande Arche de la Défense (Hauts de Seine), on the premises of the French Ministry of Ecological transition and Solidarity. This quarterly meeting was held in the presence of representatives of the European institutions, in particular the North Sea-Mediterranean corridor coordinator Péter Balàzs, representatives of the European Commission (DG MOVE) and the European Executive Agency for Climate, Infrastructure and the Environment (CINEA).
In his introductory speech, Mr Balàzs renewed his support for the Seine-Scheldt project and highlighted its progress, which was presented in detail by each of the members (Voies navigables de France, Société du Canal Seine-Nord Europe, Service Public de Wallonie, De Vlaamse Waterweg nv) in the various territories (Seine and Oise basins, Nord Pas-de-Calais, Flanders, Wallonia). He thanked the members for their commitment and recalled the need to maintain the navigation objectives set by the project’s roadmap – the Implementing Decision adopted on 27 June 2019.
An exchange then took place on the development of alternative fuels: the representative of DG MOVE, Hugues Van Honacker recalled that the transition to zero-emission vessels is one of the 3 main axes of the NAIADES III plan (2021-2027) and that the Implementing Decision implies the presentation of a deployment plan for alternative fuels by December 2022. Finally, the Dutch journalist Oscar Garschagen, invited for the occasion, presented his book “From the Scheldt to the Seine”, currently being written, which aims to inform the general public about the project and the future of inland waterways at European level.
At the invitation of Dominique Ritz- territorial director of VNF Seine and downstream Loire basins- and his deputy Stéphanie Peigney-Couderc, the members of the IGC and the European representatives then visited the Méricourt locks site (Yvelines) on the downstream Seine, which is currently the largest river construction site in France (budget: €92.3 million). The project, led by VNF and as part of Seine-Scheldt is funded under the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and it includes the renovation and extension of Lock 1 from 160 to 180 metres (to accommodate 180-metre convoys), the renovation of Lock 2 (medians and lock walls) and the construction of a new control building. The works, which will start in July 2020, are scheduled to last 4 years, with no interruption of navigation. At the time of the visit, the members noted that Lock 1, which has been extended and renovated, is now open to traffic again, and that works have started on Lock 2. On the footbridge of the Méricourt dam (Yvelines) – 31 May 2022
On the following day, 1 June, Mr. Balàzs and the representatives of DG Move and CINEA continued their tour of the locks and dams sites on the upper Seine (Le Coudray, whose secondary lock has been renovated and put back into service in January 2021 – then Ablon-Vigneux). This was followed by a meeting with the teams of the Paris operational unit (UOP) to take stock of the progress of the project to upgrade the Oise to the European gauge (MAGEO), which is currently in the study phase.
On the footbridge of the Coudray dam (Essonne) – 1 June 2022