Many citizens of Amsterdam are tried of the stag-do parties and teenage revellers who descend upon the Netherlands capital. However, whilst this brings a large sum of income to city, it is another group of visitors that have residents and media outlets up in arms. Expat workers.
Back in October, Amsterdam won a competition to host the European Medicines Agency. The relocation to the Netherlands means that the number of white-collar expatriate workers will escalate in Amsterdam and locals are not happy. NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch newspaper, had the following headline – A Nice Brexit Trophy, But Can the City Handle It?
Around 900 EMA staff will hop across the channel from London to Amsterdam due to the relocation of the regulatory agency. Some are seeing the influx of expats as a welcome economic boost, whereas others feel that foreigners with big salaries will just drive property prices up.
Those against the EMA coming to Amsterdam took to social media to mourn the death of the city’s edgy and free-thinking vibe. Many commented it was being killed by the army of bureaucrats brought across from London. Whereas others claim the watering-down of the city started over ten years ago with adult entertainment facilities being shut down in the red-light district, and popular smoking cafes being forced to shut.
Amsterdam’s Immigrant History
Whilst many who have lived in Amsterdam their whole lives are fed up with the changes that have occurred, the city has always been open to all. Back in the 17th century, immigrants contributed heavily to the city’s economic success and have continued to do so to this day, whether through employment or tourism.
Between 2011 and 2016, the number of tourists visiting Amsterdam doubled and more than 6 million foreigners head to the Dutch city to experience its unique culture. Numbers of expats have also followed this trend, rising to 77,000 in 2015 from 39,000 in 2009 according to data released by the city’s office.
This influx of people has led to the building of 70,000 new homes, aimed at medium and low-income families. However, many Amsterdammers feel the gap between wealthy expats and Dutch speaking locals is unbridgeable and the new housing is not going to who it is intended for. Many vehemently stand by the motto, “Expats go home and leave the city to us.”
A bold statement, but one that many locals, with those that have generations deep-rooted in the Dutch city, back 100%. Jan Rath, a sociology professor at the University of Amsterdam explained, “These people have qualifications, they have skills, they are networked, and so the fact is that they compete for houses and jobs with people who don’t have those qualifications.”