There is an entity in Serbia to watch over the most European river and its large tributaries, in technologically modern ways: since 2007, navigation in inland waterways in Serbia has been monitored in real time through the River Information Services (RIS) System, managed by the Directorate for Inland Waterways “Plovput”, which operates within the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure. The European Union funded the implementation of the system.

Ivan Mitrović, head of the Department for International Project Management and River Information Services in the Directorate, explains that its competence is the maintenance and development of international and interstate inland waterways in Serbia. These include the rivers Danube, Sava and Tisa, with a total length of 963 km. “Owing to the pre-accession funds, the Directorate has implemented some of the most important projects. One of the most important projects, financed entirely from the European Union funds, is the introduction of river information services in the Republic of Serbia.” The main result is the improvement of navigation safety, which is the most important factor in the harmonised use of river information services by all participants in navigation.” While the monitors show the traffic picture on the rivers of Serbia – it is refreshed in real time, and the data are updated every two seconds – our speaker points out that all state bodies with jurisdiction over waterways have access to this system. “Commercial users, such as shipowners, also have access to the system. Of course, their access is limited to vessels they own, due to the privacy policy of commercial data.” Ivan Mitrović has spent 16 years in the Directorate for Waterways, and more than twelve years in the preparation, planning and implementation of projects financed by the European Union. “EU funds have greatly helped the Directorate to improve its capacities in a sustainable way, reflected in much better navigational conditions and the condition of waterways than before,” Mitrovic concluded. EU-funded transport projects in Serbia aim to improve transport connectivity, and thus better economic integration within the region and the region’s integration with the EU. In addition, the EU’s efforts in the transport sector through these projects are largely focused on market opening and the implementation of EU standards. EU-funded projects have significantly contributed to the railway reform process, the introduction of modern and most cost-effective road infrastructure maintenance practices, and the introduction of a river information system to improve navigability on Serbia’s inland waterways. From 2000 until today, EU support to the transport sector in Serbia has reached more than 420 million euros in grants. In addition, more than 40 million euros of EU grants have been set aside for the preparation of strategically priority investments in the field of transport, totalling over 3.7 billion euros, which will be realised by combining EU grants and favourable loans in the future.