The European Commission (EC) has approved a €22.5m Dutch scheme to support the shifting of freight transport from road to inland waterways and rail.

The new scheme is part of an initiative to encourage a greener mode of transport.

Designed to run until the end of January 2026, the scheme will enable shippers and logistics operators to secure non-refundable grants for cutting down external costs, including pollution, noise, congestion, and accidents, using inland waterways and rail.

EC has assessed the measure under EU State aid rules, including Article 93 related to inland waterway transport, and the 2008 Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings concerning rail transport.

It has been determined that the measure is necessary and proportionate to encourage the use of inland waterways and rail transport that are less polluting than road transport and contribute to lowering road congestion.

The commission stated that “the aid will have an ‘incentive effect’ as the beneficiaries would not carry out the shift to the same extent in the absence of the public support.

“The measure will contribute to transport coordination and facilitate the shift of freight transport from road to inland waterways and rail, in line with the objectives of the EU Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and of the European Green Deal, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.”

In August last year, the EC approved a €550m German support measure to compensate Deutsche Bahn for damages to its unit DB Fernverkehr as a result of the pandemic.