The Motorways of the Sea

On April 29, 2004, the European Commission amended and gave a way forward to the development of “Motorways of the Sea” with an aim of providing a good competitive alternative to the land transport (European Commission 2004). The development of the Motorways of the Sea surfaced as a vital strategy to support sustainable economic growth, social developments, and environmental protection. The factors behind the development of the motorway are chiefly the largely underused coastlines of most European countries and, the negative consequences befalling the heavily loaded road network: congestion, economic cost and, environmental impacts. The introduction of the maritime-based modal transport system provides workable solutions. For example, the Motorways of the Sea, offers effective routes to overcome natural barriers such as the mountains of Alps and Pyrenees between Spain and Italy. It as well provides quicker and shorter routes to most peripheral regions in Eastern Europe (Morena 2011, 55).

The major reasons propagating towards the development of the seaways is the fact that one of its effects will be successive enlargement of the European Union. This enlargement is in respect to the increased accessibility of member countries, mostly those in Eastern Europe. The motorway will as well result to reduction in road congestion (Blauwens, De-Baere and De-Voorde 2008, 31). With the number of automobiles in the roads on the rise, the transport experience is a nightmare, especially commercial transport. Thus, the development of the motorways as an alternative transport means gives a suitable solution to the problematic traffic congestion experienced on the roads.

Maritime links are also a suitable factor of cohesion between neighboring states. In this case, the Motorways of the Sea, creates a good connection in Eastern European states. The main objectives of this project include concentrating the flow of freight in sea-based transport logistical routes. It also aims at increasing cohesion between member countries and reducing the transport congestion on the roads by use of the modal shift (Hooydonk 2006, 73).

The Motorways of the Sea lies on four corridors (Rizzuto and Soares 2012, 805). The first is the Motorway of the Baltic Sea. This corridor links the member states of the Baltic Sea with all the member states of Western and Central Europe. It includes a route a route that channels through the North Sea and the Baltic Sea canal. The other corridor is the Motorway of the Sea affiliated to the western part of Europe. The general flow of this corridor heads from Spain and Portugal and goes through the Atlantic Arc to the Irish and the North Seas. The third route of the Motorways of the Sea lies in region of southeast Europe. This connects Ionian Sea to the Adriatic Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, which includes even Cyprus. Lastly, the fourth corridor of the Motorways of the Sea is in the southwest region of Europe. This incorporates the wide area that covers Western Mediterranean, connected to Malta, Italy, France, and Spain, and linked to the southeast Europe corridor of the Motorways of the Sea through the Black Sea.

Figure 1

Motorways of the Sea’s Map (Google Igames 2013)
All the above four corridors that cumulatively make up the Motorway of the Sea are referred to as the “floating infrastructures” and are very essential parts or the Motorways of the Sea project. The transport industries of all states linked to and enjoying the benefits of the services delivered by the Motorways of the Sea implement core financial investments towards improving the success accrued from the development of this project (Focas 2004, 7). To make this project a success, several factors are considered. First, good choices concerning ports and other intermodal helped in obtaining the necessary concentration in the flow of freight. Then, the member states emphasized all actors in the transport chain to commit wholly in the project. Lastly, to remain attractive both to new and repeated business users, the Motorways of the Sea feature and maintain the best quality all year through.

As introduced and described by the Transport White Paper of 2001, the Motorways of the Sea concept aimed at bringing a redefinition of maritime transport infrastructure through the introduction of new intermodal logistic chains in Europe, maritime-based (Blecker 2007, 74). The initial goal, which still stands out, was to shift significant freight transport from roads to the sea: something that is working out really well. This is effective in the transport of bulky cargo. The Eurostat Yearbook (2008) shows that 41% of all cargo transported and handled in all European ports consist of liquid bulk while another 26% constitutes of dry bulk. It is also true that container transport has had extensive growth in Europe, especially in the period from the year 2000 to 2006. This resulted to adverse congestion of transport in the roads. The only solution to that problem was coming up with an economical mode, one applying the just-in-time elements. In this case, the Motorways of the Sea ended up as a perfect solution.

The Motorways of the Sea, through shifting of transport freight from the roads to the waterborne part of the transport logistic chain ended up increasing the efficiency of the transport and distribution of goods, both in domestic and international trade (Johnson and Turner 2006, 200). The efficiency improvement emanated from various factors promoted by the establishment of the Motorways of the Sea. First, the development of new flexible and efficient interfaces between waterborne and land means of transport. There is also the development of methods and equipments suitable for effective transfer of merchandise that focus on high efficiency at the lowest investment (Pedersen and Marlo 2011).


  • European Commission. “Corrigendum to Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004.” Official Journal of the European Union, 2004: 30.
  • Morena, Marzia. Morphological, Technological and Fuctional Characteristics of Infrastructures as a Vital Sector for the Competitiveness of a Country System: An Analysis of the Evolution. Milano: Maggioli Editore, 2011.
  • Blauwens, Gust, Peter De-Baere, and eddy Van De-Voorde. Transport Economics. Antwerpen: De Boeck Hoger, 2008.
  • Hooydonk, E. Van. The Impact of EU Environmental Law on Waterways and Ports: Including a Proposal for the Creation of Portus 2010, a Coherent EU Network of Strategic Port Development Areas. Apeldoorn: Maklu Publishers, 2006.
  • Rizzuto, E., and C. Guedes Soares. Sustainable Maritime Transportation and Exploitation of Sea Resources. AK Leiden: CRC Press, 2012.
  • Google Igames. “Results for West-Mos Map.” WEST-MOS. 2013.
  • Focas, Caralampo. Transport Issues And Problems In Southeastern Europe. Hants: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004.
  • Blecker, Thorsten. Key Factors for Successful Logistics: Services, Transportation Concepts, IT and Management Tools. Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag GmbH & Co., 2007.
  • Johnson, Debra, and Colin Turner. European Business. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Pedersen, Dr. Jan Tore, and A.S. Marlo. “Motorways of rthe Sea Services in the Northern Maritime Corridor.” Business Report, Oslo, 2011.
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