Danube and especially its lower sector have always had a peculiar importance, as over the last centuries it became the main European channel of communication for commercial transportation between the ports of Mediterranean, Black Sea and Central Europe. As commerce with the riparian countries extended, the importance of Danube mouths in their capacity of navigable lane for maritime commercial vessels increased.
The actual condition of navigation on Danube is the result of a long historical evolution during which, tightly connected to political events, the principles of international law with regard to the rivers that cross the territories of several states were formulated.
The most important stages of establishing and finalizing the norms of international law in the field of navigation on international rivers and especially on Danube, starting with the French revolution that formulated for the first time the modern juristic concept to be established in 1815 by the Final act of Vienna Congress, can be chronologically presented as follows:
a) Creation of Danube European Commission on the maritime sector of Danube, by Paris peace treaty in 1856;
b) Acceptance of Romania into the Danube European Commission in 1878, as a result of their becoming an independent state;
c) Codification of law general principles valid for international rivers by Conference of Barcelona in 1921, in which Romania participates, and, during the same year, adoption of Danube Statute as a result of the Peace Conference from Paris in 1920. The Danube Statute stipulated the establishment of the International Commission of Danube for Braila - Ulm sector;
d) Overtaking of some of the Danube European Commission tasks by the Romanian state in 1938, and to this purpose the setting out of the Direction of Maritime Danube, as a result of Sinaia Arrangement;
e) Abolition of Danube European Commission and consolidation of Germany position over Danube navigation by Vienna arrangement in 1940;
f) Convening of an International Conference by the Council of Ministers of External Affairs to the purpose of elaborating a new convention as to Danube policy, as a result of the Peace Conference in Paris 1946.
The international conference was held in Belgrade in 1948, with participation from delegations of: USA, England, France, Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania.
In spite of the opposition from the western countries, the riparian countries supporting a project presented by the Soviet Union, decided that the issue of navigation should only be established by them. These are the historical circumstances under which the Convention on Danube navigation policy, now in force, appeared.
ROMANIA'S TASKS AS SUBSCRIBER TO THE CONVENTION ON DANUBE NAVIGATION POLICY, CONCLUDED AT BELGRADE IN 1948
Signing the Convention on Danube navigation policy, the riparian countries took upon themselves the following obligations:
1. Assurance of navigation freedom for all commercial vessels belonging to all states, equally, as to port rights, navigation taxes and navigation conditions from Ulm to Black Sea along Sulina arm.
2. Maintenance of navigation conditions for all river vessels, on the sectors that belong to them.
3. In the sectors belonging to maritime navigation vessels (Braila - Sulina), performance of works necessary to assure and improve the conditions of navigation, without hindering or troubling navigation on the navigable channels of Danube.
4. Together with limitrophe countries, the establishment of hydrotechnical works and the allocation of expenses on the sectors where Danube is common border line between states.
5. Establishment of navigation rules in close connection with the fundamental dispositions adopted by the Danube Commission concerning the navigation on Danube.
6. Based on the Convention, the establishment of a special river Administration that would perform hydrotechnical works and regulate navigation on maritime Danube, composed of representatives from the riparian states (Romania and the Soviet Union). The Administration works according to an agreement concluded by the governments of the countries that are parties in it.
In order to fulfill the obligations mentioned at points 4 and 6, the following agreements were concluded:
Bilateral agreement between the governments of Romania and the Soviet Union, Moscow 1953 - as to the functioning of the River Administration of the Lower Danube of Galati, for the maintenance of the fairway and the accomplishment of hydrotechnical works on maritime Danube sector (Sulina - Braila);
Bilateral agreement between the governments of Romania and the People's Republic of Bulgaria, Sofia 1955 - as to the maintenance and improvement of the navigation fairway on the Romanian - Bulgarian sector of Danube between km 375 and 845.5;
Bilateral agreement between the governments of Romania and the Federative Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, Belgrade 1976 with regard to the establishment and control of application of navigation rules, maintenance and improvement of navigation conditions on the sector where Danube is border line between the two states from km 845.5 to km 1075.