For the CCNR, the principle of freedom of navigation has always gone hand in hand with the principles of organisation to guarantee safety and proper functioning of navigation.
To this end, the CCNR has produced a number of technical rules in relation to the equipment and safety of vessels. The first Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations (RVIR) dates back to 1905. This regulation has been continually updated to reflect technological progress. The inspection regulations has undergone substantial revisions over the years. The most recent revisions were carried out in 1976, 1995, 2006 and 2020.
The CCNR's regulatory powers are mainly based on Articles 1 and 22 of the Mannheim Convention. This regulation was drawn up already in the 19th century in uniform fashion throughout the full course of the Rhine, with no discrimination between vessels.
Every vessel navigating on the Rhine must have a vessel certificate issued after the boat has been examined by an inspection commission. Any Rhine craft can apply for a vessel certificate from any inspection commission, regardless of the relevant nationality
The inspection regulations defines the basic premises on which the inspection commissions issue vessel certificates. In theory, the regulation is meant for the inspection commissions. In practice, the inspection regulations objectively defines the technical conditions to which vessels on the Rhine are subject.
By virtue of its stringent requirements, factoring in cutting-edge technology, the Rhine inspection regulations, which is only legally applicable on the Rhine itself, has become Europe's technical reference base for the construction of new vessels, irrespective of whether they are intended for use on the Rhine or elsewhere. The regulation has been more or less transposed into other national regulations (Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary), by UN-ECE (for the development of technical requirements for vessels, Resolution 61 revised), and by the European Union (Directive 82/714/EC superseded by Directive 2006/87/EC ).
In 2006, an EC Directive laid down the technical requirements for inland waterway vessels (Directive 2006/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December), and this introduced full harmonisation of the technical requirements for inland waterway vessels and Rhine regulatory provisions (with regard to category 3 of major waterways). On the basis of this equivalence, the CCNR has recognised the validity of Community certificates on the Rhine (Protocol 2007-II-21 ), while Rhine certificates have also been recognised on all EU waterways. In future, Rhine and EU regulations will evolve in tandem so as to remain identical.
This alignment of CCNR and EU requirements was continued with the European Standard laying down technical requirements for inland navigation vessels (ES-TRIN). The standard is available in four languages (Dutch, English, French and German) and contains the requirements of Directive 2006/87/EC and Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations in harmonised form. It contains provisions on the construction, fitting out and equipment of inland navigation vessels, special provisions for particular types of vessel such as passenger vessels and container ships, provisions on the model inland navigation vessel certificate and instructions on the application of the technical standard.
References to the ES-TRIN have now been incorporated into the EU and CCNR legal frameworks (i.e. into Directive (EU) 2016/1629 replacing Directive 2006/87/EC and the Rhine Vessel Inspection Regulations). This common standard applies to the Rhine and European Union’s entire inland waterway network.
The various editions of the ES-TRIN are available on the website of the European Committee for drawing up standards in the field of inland navigation (CESNI).
In general, this technical regulation is simultaneously stringent while also containing flexibility. The stringency is demonstrated by the fact that the requirements are the strictest and the most technically advanced. Its flexibility can be seen from the range of implementation options:
The technical requirements for vessels are drawn up by the Inspection Regulations Committee.
Main areas of responsibility:
Technical safety of vessels, construction and equipping of buildings
Rhine vessel inspection regulations (RVIR), including the inspection commission administrative instructions
Committee Chairman: Mr. KRATZENBERG, Commissioner for Switzerland
Secretariat: Mr. BOYER
Working group: RV/G
The Rhine vessel inspection regulations (RVIR) define the Inspection body’s vessel certification procedures and refer to the ES-TRIN for the applicable technical requirements
|A.||Application for inspection|
|O.||List of certificates recognized as equivalent according to § 1.04 and modalities for their recognition|
To ease and harmonize the use of these regulations, the Central Commission can issue administrative instructions for the inspection bodies and for the competent authorities specified by these regulations. These administrative instructions shall be brought to the attention of the inspection bodies and the competent authorities by the delegations. The inspection bodies and competent authorities are obliged to follow these administrative instructions.
The ES-TRIN supersedes all existing administrative instructions. However, instructions post-dating the ES-TRIN apply when using the ES-TRIN as an administrative instruction as construed by the RVIR.
The Central Commission has delegated the authority to decide upon administrative instructions to its Inspection Regulations Committee.
Where the ES-TRIN provides that specific materials, installations or items of equipment are to be installed in or present aboard a vessel, or that specific design aspects or specific arrangements are to be adopted, the Inspection body may permit different materials, installations or items of equipment to be installed or present if they are recognised as being equivalent based on recommendations by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine.
This matter is regulated in detail under Article 2.20 RVIR.
The Central Commission has delegated the authority to decide upon recommendations to its Inspection Regulations Working Group.
Additional information on the derogation procedure is available on the website of the European Committee for Drawing up Standards in the Field of Inland Navigation (CESNI).
The experts from the Inspection Bodies of the Member States of the CCNR meet every few years in order to discuss the harmonization of the application of the technical requirements and to answer questions relating to their practical application. The first such meeting that included also representatives of the Inspection Bodies and the competent authorities of the Member States of the EU took place in 2008. In 2012 the meeting was held in Wroclaw (Poland) and in 2018 the meeting took place in Vienna under the auspices of CESNI.