No separate policy for Schiphol, Rotterdam port: advisory board

Schiphol airport and the port of Rotterdam are no longer so important to the Dutch economy for them to have their own separate policy, according to the Council for Environment and Infrastructure in its latest advice to the government, ANP reports.

"The economy is changing. Other things, such as our digital infrastructure, the knowledge center around Eindhoven and the Groene Hart, also deserve attention", Jan Jaap de Graeff, president of the advisory body, wrote to the government.

Over the past 25 years the Netherlands pushed a lot of money into expanding Schiphol and the port of Rotterdam, considered the countries two main ports. But hard figures show that the use of these ports are declining. Rotterdam, for example, accounted for 6 percent of the Netherlands gross domestic product about 25 years ago. Last year it accounted for 3 percent.

De Graeff thinks it unwise for the government to continue blindly focusing on increasing the capacity of the two ports. Other aspects of the current business life need attention. For example, foreign companies currently looking to settle in the Netherlands need well-trained IT people to hire, a proper and fast internet connection and some trees and parks in the area.

The council therefore advises that the next government, taking office after the elections in March next year, should start by working on a new policy to improve the Netherlands' competitiveness and business climate. Pay more attention to the added value of investments in the bigger picture, weighed against other options. "That may mean, for example, that it suddenly appears better not to invest in a new highway, but that improving the quality of the environment is more profitable", De Graeff explained.