3° Special clauses relating to the Danube (Art. 346 to 353)

Article 346.

The European Commission of the Danube reassumes the powers it possessed before the war. Nevertheless, as a provisional measure, only representatives of Great Britain, France, Italy and Roumania shall constitute this Commission.

Article 347.

From the point where the competence of the European Commission ceases, the Danube system referred to in Article 331 shall be placed under the administration of an International Commission composed as follows:

  • 2 representatives of German riparian States;
  • 1 representative of each other riparian State;
  • 1 representative of each non-riparian State represented in the future on the European Commission of the Danube.

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If certain of these representatives cannot be appointed at the time of the coming into force of the present Treaty, the decisions of the Commission shall nevertheless be valid.

Article 348.

The International Commission provided for in the preceding Article shall meet as soon as possible after the coming into force of the present Treaty, and shall undertake provisionally the administration of the river in conformity with the provisions of Articles 332 to 337, until such time as a definitive statute regarding the Danube is concluded by the Powers nominated by the Allied and Associated Powers.

Note to XII, 348

The commission held its first meeting on June 17, 1920. The conference to draw up the statute convened on August 1, 1920.

Article 349.

Germany agrees to accept the régime which shall be laid down for the Danube by a Conference of the Powers nominated by the Allied and Associated Powers, which shall meet within one year after the coming into force of the present Treaty, and at which German representatives may be present.

Text of May 7:

Germany agrees to accept the regime which shall be laid down for the Danube by a Conference of the Powers nominated by the Allied and Associated Powers, which shall meet within one year after the coming into force of the present Treaty.

Note to XII, 349

The convention instituting the definitive statute of the Danube was signed at Paris, July 23, 1921 and came into force on October 1, 1922, between Belgium, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Rumania, Serb-Croat-Slovene State, and Czechoslovakia (26 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 173). The convention was negotiated “in the presence and with the participation of the duly authorized plenipotentiaries of Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Hungary”.

The international regime had applied to the Danube since the Treaty of Peace signed at Paris, March 30, 1856 ending the Crimean War (46 British and Foreign State Papers, p. 8). That treaty set up the European Commission of the Danube to which a Riverain [Page 666] Commission was added by the Treaty of Berlin, July 13, 1878 (69 ibid., p. 749). Both commissions in the period before the war of 1914–18 functioned under the additional act signed at Galatz on May 28, 1881 (72 ibid., p. 7) and the treaty signed at London on March 10, 1883 (74 ibid., p. 20).

The Danube was declared international from Ulm, Bavaria, to the sea, by the convention of 1921. The internationalized river system of the Danube comprises the Morava and the Thaya where they form the frontier between Austria and Czechoslovakia; the Drave from Bares; the Tisza from the mouth of the Szamos; the Maros from Arad; and lateral canals or waterways thereto.

Navigation on the Danube is unrestricted and open to all flags over the whole navigable course of the system between Ulm, Bavaria, and the Black Sea. Freedom of navigation and equal treatment of all flags were entrusted to the European Commission of the Danube, whose administrative sphere is the maritime Danube from the Black Sea to Braila, and the International Commission, whose authority extends over both the fluvial and maritime parts of the river system and whose unanimous consent is required for placing additional waterways under its authority.

The European Commission, with its seat at Galatz, was provisionally composed of representatives of France, Great Britain, Italy, and Rumania with the powers “which it possessed before the war”.

The International Commission, with its seat at Bratislava, was composed as stipulated in article 347 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany; article 302 of that with Austria; article 320 of that with Bulgaria, and article 286 of that with Hungary. Its duties chiefly relate to maintaining the works required for the unrestricted navigation of the river system, in conjunction with the authorities of the riparian states, which could undertake riverain improvements within their own frontiers. The convention lays down general principles with respect to customs, duties, tolls, taxes and navigation dues, port regulations, traffic regulations, and general policing regulations.

Questions of jurisdiction were referred to the League of Nations Committee for Communications and Transit in 1924. An advisory opinion of the Permanent Court of International Justice on December 8, 1927 confirmed the jurisdiction of the European Commission over the sector of the Danube from Galatz to and including Braila (Series B, No. 14).

Rumania from 1881 on had been unreconciled to the control exercised by the European Commission over the Danube within its [Page 667] boundaries. After the advisory opinion negotiations between France, the United Kingdom, and Italy continued with Rumania at Geneva, under the auspices of the League Committee for Communications and Transit. A draft declaration covering a draft convention concerning the powers of the various authorities responsible for drawing up and promulgating regulations for the Maritime Danube and for investigating, verifying, and punishing infractions of such regulations were approved by the Council on January 16, 1030 (League of Nations, Official Journal, 1930, pp. 109, 188) and the declaration was signed December 5, 1930 (ibid., 1931, p. 736).

It was not, however, until many years later that the alterations desired by Rumania were effected. Protracted negotiations with Rumania to decide on the necessary regulations ensued, and a modus vivendi was effected by an arrangement signed by delegates of France, Great Britain, Italy, and Rumania on May 17, 1933 (Permanent Court of International Justice, Series E, No. 9, pp. 115–17). Five years later, on August 18, 1938, France, Great Britain, and Rumania concluded at Sinaia an arrangement introducing “the modifications rendered necessary by present circumstances” in the powers of the European Commission (196 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 113). By this arrangement the European Commission of the Danube ceased to exercise the powers held by it under the instruments and regulations in force with respect to navigation, the port and roadstead of Sulina, the enactment of regulations relating to navigation for the Maritime Danube and its mouths, preparation and execution of plans for works on the Maritime Danube, levying dues and disposing of the yield thereof, sanitary matters, and jurisdiction over offenses. The Rumanian Government set up the Maritime Danube Board which, with that Government, succeeded to the powers relinquished by the European Commission. The accession of Germany and Italy to this arrangement and the entry of Germany into the European Commission of the Danube were effected by an agreement signed at Bucharest March 1, 1939 (ibid., p. 127). Ratifications of both instruments were deposited with the Rumanian Government and they entered into force on May 13, 1939.

Article 350.

The mandate given by Article 57 of the Treaty of Berlin of July 13, 1878, to Austria-Hungary, and transferred by her to Hungary, [Page 668] to carry out works at the Iron Gates, is abrogated. The Commission entrusted with the administration of this part of the river shall lay down provisions for the settlement of accounts subject to the financial provisions of the present Treaty. Charges which may be necessary shall in no case be levied by Hungary.

Note to XII, 350

The treaty of Berlin modifying the preliminaries of peace of San Stefano between Russia and Turkey, signed on March 3, 1878, was concluded between Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and Turkey. It is printed at 69 British and Foreign State Papers, p. 749.

Article 351.

Should the Czecho-Slovak State, the Serb-Croat-Slovene State or Roumania, with the authorisation of or under mandate from the International Commission, undertake maintenance, improvement, weir, or other works on a part of the river system which forms a frontier, these States shall enjoy on the opposite bank, and also on the part of the bed which is outside their territory, all necessary facilities for the survey, execution and maintenance of such works.

Article 352.

Germany shall be obliged to make to the European Commission of the Danube all restitutions, reparations and indemnities for damages inflicted on the Commission during the war.

Note to XII, 352

The Reparation Commission on February 4, 1921 decided that it would take up claims of the European Commission of the Danube under this article and article 307 of the treaty of peace with Austria at the request of the Conference of Ambassadors, if Germany and Austria had no objections. Germany, however, did not consent to this procedure and on May 23, 1921 the Reparation Commission notified the Kriegslastenkommission that it would not occupy itself with claims under article 352 nor those of the European Commission of the Danube. The matter was settled directly between Germany and the commission, and article 9 of the Finance Ministers’ Agreement of January 14, 1925 stipulated the payment of 266,800 gold francs to the European Commission of the Danube out of the annuities of the Experts’ (Dawes) Plan.

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Article 353.

Should a deep-draught Rhine-Danube navigable waterway be constructed, Germany undertakes to apply thereto the régime prescribed in Articles 332 to 338.

Text of May 7:

In the event of all the Allied and Associated Powers represented on the Central Commission for the Rhine and on the International Commission charged with the administration of the Upper Danube respectively deciding within 25 years from the coming into force of the present Treaty upon the creation of a deep-draught Rhine-Danube navigable waterway, Germany shall be bound to construct such waterway in accordance with plans to be communicated to her by the said Powers.

For this purpose the Central Commission for the Rhine shall have the right to undertake all necessary surveys.

Should Germany fail to carry out all or part of the works, the Central Commission for the Rhine shall be entitled to carry them out instead.

For this purpose the Commission shall be qualified to decide upon and fix the limits of the necessary sites and to occupy the ground after a period of 2 months after notification, subject to the payment of indemnities to be fixed by the Commission and paid by Germany.

This navigable waterway shall be placed under the same administrative régime as the Rhine itself, and the distribution of the initial cost of construction, including the above indemnities, among the States concerned, shall be made, by a tribunal to be appointed by the Council of the League of Nations.

Note to XII, 353

For some notice of the waterway project, see article 31, note on Belgo-Netherlands relations.