The partners involved in VNE are developing canals, rivers and lakes for tourism and recreation, promoting their value as heritage sites, but also taking account of the many different ways in which they are still used. In the process, VNE is seeking to bring together work that has already been carried out in similar areas by other INTERREG programmes and to promote the results to a wider European audience.
Achievements so far During the VNE project lifetime of 2 years, one kick-off meeting, three workshops, two seminars and a Final Conference with associated Steering Group meetings, were held. Each event focussed on a separate theme: Brussels, Dec 2005 (review of work progress-19 delegates); Milan, Apr 2006 (cultural heritage & environment-27 delegates), Telemark, Sep 2006 (networking of waterways-47 delegates), Castilla, Mar 2007 (Multifunctional use of Waterways in Europe-104 delegates); Budapest, Jul 2007 (benchmarking inland waterways of New Member States-27 delegates); Liverpool, Nov 2007 (the future of recreational inland waterways-78 delegates). Through field visits linked to each meeting, the partners and local experts/politicians got a good insight into how to involve a range of stakeholders to develop inland waterways. Other project activities included carrying out studies & investigations to (1) Bring together the work of other waterway-related Interreg projects and fill gaps in knowledge concerning waterways; (2) Create a recognised network of recreation & heritage waterways in Europe; (3) Investigate issues associated with the multi-functional use of waterways; (4) Pilot the establishment of a European Recreation Navigation Observatory (ERNO). All final reports of the studies were completed before the Final Conference in Nov 2007 in Liverpool (UK) took place. Formal dissemination and promotional activity was supported by a project website, banner displays, newsletters (three issues), a project brochure and a public version of the final report. The website (www.vne-waterways.eu) is updated regularly with information and it has been agreed to maintain the site for at least 2 years after completion of the project. The banners displays are used by partners to support dissemination of VNE work at conferences, meetings & other events e.g. the Dutch partner SRN took part at the 'knowledge exhibition stand' at the HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show in Mar 2007. That event attracted in total about 61.000 visitors and 375 exhibitors. Also the VNE project was represented at the exhibition of the Interreg IVC Launch Event on 20-21 Sep 2007 in Lisbon. Other opportunities to promote VNE are taken as they arise, for example through an article in the Oct 2006 issue of the magazine Regional Review. In addition a response was made by VNE in respect of consultation regarding the EU Green Paper on maritime policy, emphasising the importance of links between inland areas and the sea through canals and rivers.