On an initiative of Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner responsible for transport policy, the Commission approved proposals on 23 May 1995 to revitalize the inland waterways transport market to make it more efficient and thus encourage greater use of this safe and environmentally friendly transport mode as an alternative to road traffic. Inland waterways play an important role in freight transport: more than a third of international intra-Community transport is carried on Europe's canal system and the sector is important to all Member States involved in importing and exporting goods to and from North-West Europe. Mr. Kinnock said that the proposals would ensure greater efficiency. The development of inland waterways as a viable form of transport is crucial to the EU's goal of creating an integrated European transport system where all modes are compatible with each other. By making waterways more economically attractive, the EU will encourage freight operators to take cargoes off congested roads. The development of inland waterways is a vital complement to other forms of transport, particularly where freight traffic is concerned because it: - Reduces congestion on road and rail; - Is environmentally friendly; - Is safe, particularly for the transport of dangerous goods; - Is energy efficient; - Has low social costs. Realizing the full potential of inland waterways has, however, been hampered due to: - Restrictive practices in certain markets; - Overcapacity due to the high proportion of old and inefficient vessels; - The relatively high cost of trans-shipment. The proposals approved by the Commission aim to rectify that situation with measures to make the sector more attractive to transporters, guaranteeing its long-term competitiveness. The aim is to build in greater flexibility, create a better balance between supply and demand, and ensure prices are set more closely in line with the market. Restructuring will be over the next three years, from 1996 to 1998, and progress will be evaluated annually.