In application of the Mannheim Convention, the CCNR’s role is to implement any initiative intended to guarantee freedom of navigation on the Rhine and promote navigation on the Rhine.

During the two centuries of its existence, the CCNR has achieved these objectives in a number of directions:

Activity of regulating navigation on the Rhine

This regulation ensures:

  • uniform regulations for its entire navigable length;
  • the safety of navigation on the Rhine, for both people and the environment;
  • qualifications and a social framework suited to the people working in navigation on the Rhine.

These regulations, originally designed specifically in relation to the Rhine, have been imitated and extended on a number occasions to apply to all inland navigation in Europe. Thus the CCNR plays a pilot role in developing regulations applicable to navigation on inland waterways generally.

One of the features of the CCNR’s regulations is the desire to combine the individual freedom of operation and collective organisation, on the principle that an efficient market implies order and public supervision.

The CCNR’s regulations are directed mainly at ensuring safety and protection of the environment.

The various CCNR regulations are presented in the section regulations.


Maintenance of good conditions for navigation on the Rhine

The States are responsible for maintaining and improving their infrastructures (navigable waterway and port installations) – they organise the necessary work. According to circumstances, they may put this in the hands of federated or decentralised structures, to autonomous public establishments, or even to private stakeholders. The Central Commission monitors and coordinates these measures at the international level. The States submit their plans for infrastructures (such as the construction of new bridges) to it for its opinion.

The general policies for improving infrastructures and all related issues are also discussed within the CCNR with a view to determining common guidelines.

Apart from conventional infrastructures, the CCNR examines the availability of all the equipment used to assure the smooth flow of navigation (RIS, mooring areas, adapting infrastructures for loading and unloading, boat/land interface, etc).

It also takes an interest in the ecological management of infrastructures and in the effects of climate change on the Rhine as a waterway, security issues, and the availability of the navigable waterway.

Although the CCNR has no decision-making authority in this respect, it plays an important role in everything concerning infrastructures.

These aspects are presented in the section infrastructure and environment.


Promotion of ecological inland navigation

There is no specific mention of protection of the Rhine environment in the 1868 Mannheim Document, but it has long been one of the CCNR’s concerns: since the beginning of the twentieth century, it has considered “general safety” to include the prevention of pollution and the protection of the environment (Resolutions 1996-I-14 9 KB 9 KB and 1996-I-15 9 KB 9 KB ).

This concern is expressed in a number of ways:

  • The CCNR’s regulations contain prescriptions intended to prevent navigation on the Rhine causing any pollution (Article 1.15 and Chapter 15 of the RPNR, etc).
  • Particular attention has been paid to preventing pollution likely to be caused by the transport of dangerous goods. The ADNR Regulations were developed with this in mind; they were supplemented in 2009 to provide a better response to certain forms of pollution (CMR substances, floater and sinker matter, etc). It has been replaced by the ADN in 2011. The ISGINTT guide to the boat/land interface is also aimed at preventing accidental pollution.
  • The CCNR brought about the adoption of an international Convention on the collection, deposit and reception of waste generated during navigation on the Rhine and other inland waterways (CDNI).
  • The CCNR has developed action aimed at preventing inland navigation vessels emitting pollutant fumes, and has worked to achieve a reduction in emissions from vessel engines, the gradual elimination of degassing (VOC), and the prevention of emissions of MTBE.
  • The CCNR is collaborating with the ICPR on developing the concept of ecological navigable waterways. This includes an awareness of the possible impact of infrastructural work on the environment, the promotion of good practices in maintenance work on the waterway, and support for renaturisation work that is compatible with inland navigation. It has organised a number of workshops on the subject with the ICPR (see speech by the President of the CCNR at the Bonn Workshop).

Development of the law of inland navigation

Inland navigation needs an appropriate legal framework. The CCNR has taken on the task of making an active contribution to the development of such a framework.

To do so, it has developed a set of regulations and monitors their application by organising regular meetings of the river police authorities of the Member States. Any disputes that may arise in respect of the CCNR’s regulations may give subject to a complaint before the plenary session or may be brought before the Central Commission’s Chamber of Appeals.

The CCNR has set up a committee specially responsible for monitoring matters of river law (River Law Committee). This committee has competence to interpret Rhine law. It has also collected and compared the law governing inland navigation in the Member States.

The CCNR has brought about the adoption of a number of international conventions involving inland navigation:

  • CLNI convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation on the Rhine and elsewhere;
  • CMNI convention on the contract for the carriage of goods by inland waterway;
  • ADN agreement on the transport of dangerous substances by inland waterway;
  • CDNI convention on the treatment of waste produced during inland navigation;
  • International agreement on social security arrangements for boatmen on the Rhine;
  • Agreement on working conditions for navigation on the Rhine;
  • Regional arrangement on radiotelephone services in inland navigation.

The CCNR also collaborates actively with the UN-ECE in the legal field on the conventions adopted in the UN-ECE framework.


Coordination of national regulations regarding the social protection of boatsmen

Social protection is not mentioned in the Mannheim Document and the CCNR has not directly developed any legal instruments on social law. It has nevertheless always been attentive to working conditions as this is an area that plays an important role in terms of safety, freedom of navigation, and uniformity of the legal framework of navigation on the Rhine, and for the prosperity of navigation on the Rhine, since this demands good relations between employers and employees. There should be no grey areas in the employment legislation and social security rules that apply to the people involved in navigation on the Rhine, and they must be adapted to navigation conditions.

A certain number of the rules on safety that are included in the CCNR’s regulations have a social dimension (rest periods, crew composition, conditions for attaining the various qualifications).

The CCNR has also been instrumental in the Member States adopting a number of specific agreements:

  • Agreement on working conditions; 32 KB 32 KB
  • Agreement on social security arrangements for boatmen on the Rhine.

The CCNR’s Secretariat also acts as Secretariat for both the Administrative Centre for the Social Security of Rhine Boatmen and for the Tripartite Committee on Working Conditions.


Economic issues

With a view to ensuring the prosperity of navigation on the Rhine, the CCNR has always taken an interest in the profession’s economic conditions. It is a major forum for discussing the sector’s economic problems.

In the past, issues such as competition with rail transport, the constitution of pools, conditions for access to the market, temporary immobilisation, and scrapping have been discussed within the CCNR. It was associated with the European Community’s work on structural reorganisation.

For many years, the CCNR has collected and published statistics on navigation on the Rhine (composition of fleets, goods carried, port activity).

More recently, this activity has become part of a much wider project for observation of the market, carried out in partnership with the European Commission.

As part of this activity, information on the economic situation of inland navigation in Europe as a whole is collected, analysed and published (see observation of the market).

On the basis of this data, the CCNR also organises prospective analysis work, round-table discussions and economic congresses.


Other points

By virtue of the Mannheim Document (Article 45), the CCNR may be called on to debate any matters involving the prosperity of navigation on the Rhine.

This makes it a centre for considering, discussing and making proposals on a very wide range of subjects involving inland navigation, such as innovation in inland navigation, the languages used for communication in inland navigation, professional training, the sector’s power of attraction, ports on the Rhine, etc.

The CCNR publishes reports on its activities at regular intervals.