EU funded Amsterdam tourist guide
Start your visit to Amsterdam on the north side of the Dutch capital’s central station by taking the free ferry across the IJ River.
As you approach the northern part of Amsterdam, you will see a tall white building that some say resembles a frog. The new building of the film institute “The Eye”, inaugurated in 2012, cost around 38 million euros. It received € 1.5 million in EU funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The ERDF distributed more money to ‘Amsterdam Noord’ – an area which, due to its watery separation from the rest of Amsterdam, has long been seen as not really belonging to the city.
But several major industrial players have left the seafront, leaving it open to new developments. Housing cooperative Eigen Haard received 2.7 million euros to modernize an area of mostly abandoned company buildings.
According to Bart Bozelie, the project – which has also received 10 million euros in private investment – has helped put the northern district on the map. “The ERDF grant has definitely contributed to this,” he told EUobserver in an emailed statement. He said the project could have gone ahead without the ERDF grant anyway, but then he would have had “a lower level of ambition”.
During the current funding period (i.e. 2014-2020), the Noord district of Amsterdam also benefits from a co-funding of 33 million euros to develop economic activity in a park of the city.
The money will be used to renovate pavilions and two old gas stations. An old gas station, recently painted yellow, was already disfigured by graffiti. The building is now used for neighborhood activities like yoga and, as a passerby to EUobserver said, cycling lessons.
Cycling is of course typically Dutch, and you can also do it on EU funded cycle paths.
Head southeast to Diemerbos Forest, and you can ride on what € 119,386 in ERDF co-funding could buy. The project was carried out by Recreatie Noord-Holland, a company belonging to the province of Noord-Holland.
Senior project manager Wim Roozenbeek told EUobserver via email that the money was used to connect Amsterdam to a neighboring region. The project “apparently” met the conditions for an ERDF grant, “which led to the decision to apply”. He said that without the ERDF grant a higher contribution from the province or cities would have been necessary.
While in the south-east of Amsterdam, visit World of Food, an indoor food court in a former parking lot.
The cooks who produce multicultural street food are in desperate need of all the customer base they can get. World of Food opened in 2015, following an ERDF grant of € 418,800.
It was advertised as offering jobs to local entrepreneurs, but many of them have already left. “We are all disappointed,” said one, who declined to see his name printed. “If you let yourself be heard, they will intimidate you,” he said, referring to the private company that owns the place. The contractor said there had been mismanagement, which led to the doubling of purchases of ventilation and heating systems.
Its story was corroborated by another, who confirmed that rental and service costs for cooking units have skyrocketed, despite an initial promise that prices for the first five years would remain stable.
“I have to pay € 2,400 in rent and € 448 in monthly dues – but I have no idea what this money is being spent on. You are not allowed to ask questions, just pay,” he said. -he declares.
The first noted that he had wanted to contact the “ERDF people” but did not know who to contact.
Despite the difficult situation for entrepreneurs, the food court has managed to achieve some societal goals.
“The whites were afraid of [Amsterdam] southeast, “said one of the entrepreneurs, referring to the large proportion of second-generation immigrants living there.” But the region’s reputation has improved. “
Churches and microbes
Back in the center of Amsterdam, you can start visiting some museums. In September 2014, the Micropia Museum opened, which claims to be the only museum in the world dedicated to the world of microbes. It is part of the Artis zoo and has received € 2 million in ERDF grants. His spokesperson told EUobserver that although the zoo is open about how many external grants it receives, it does not comment on how they are spent as it is something “between the grant provider and the beneficiary”.
Opposite the zoo is the Dutch Resistance Museum, which since October 2013 has a section dedicated to children, which was built with € 300,000 in co-financing from the ERDF.
A few minutes by bike from here is the Notre-Seigneur museum in the attic, which has received 3.8 million euros for an in-depth renovation. The museum shows how in the 16th century Catholic churches moved to residential houses and homes – the city had become Protestant, but non-Protestant religions were tolerated as long as they were not visible to the world. outside. The museum houses a real church in the attic.
“We heard about this museum from our daughter, who went there two or three years ago,” said Sarencki Dariusz, a Polish tourist. He noted that his country had also benefited from EU investments in infrastructure such as roads, but had no problem with richer regions receiving ERDF funds. “Why not?” he said.
But the projects raise questions.
Is EU money really needed to create museums in Amsterdam, a city that is already teeming with tourists? Gerard de Boer is Senior Grant Advisor for Amsterdam. He noted that there was a rationale for each project. The Our Lord in the Attic Museum has helped bring families to a neighborhood that normally welcomes those interested in strip clubs and prostitutes. “It was important that the red light district also started to receive a different kind of tourists,” said De Boer.
Birgit Buchner, director of the museum, confirmed that the museum attracts visitors who otherwise would not visit the red light district. “This museum visitor poses few problems and adds diversity to the neighborhood,” she said in an email to EUobserver.
Buchner noted that the ERFD grant was “very large”, but added that it was very difficult to say what would have happened without it.
According to Eurostat figures, the agglomeration of Amsterdam had a gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 of almost 100 billion euros. Dividing the Netherlands into 40 regions using the so-called NUTS 3 classification, Greater Amsterdam is the region with the highest GDP – producing 14.5% of the country’s production.
De Boer acknowledged that of course Amsterdam has a completely different economy than Bucharest, for example, but pointed out that the share of regional funding going to richer countries is much smaller.
“We are using it to fill the gaps in our economy,” he noted. In Amsterdam, ERDF money is used to reduce disparities within the city, rather than achieving the end goal of EU regional policy: full cohesion between all regions. But it is allowed.
Indeed, the money is used for classic regional policy. The question – what was the added value of receiving the money from a European fund rather than a national one? – was something De Boer would rather not comment on.
EU funded hotel
In any event. You must be tired after such a long day in Amsterdam. It’s time to check in at your hotel. Damrak Street, which connects the station to Dam Square, has eight in a strip of less than 50 meters, but what better place to stay than in the boutique hotel “The Exchange”, which presents itself as a ” Fashion hotel with models beloved “dressed rooms.
For years Damrak Street has had a bad reputation, but it is being cleaned up.
Over the 2007-2013 ERDF period, a real estate company received two grants totaling € 6.2 million to help it buy 13 buildings and renovate them. During the same period, an additional 4.8 million euros from the ERDF were granted as co-financing for the development of the hotel “The Exchange”.
It’s not the cheapest hotel on the street, but after spending the night here you can tell that you slept in a hotel that was partially funded by EU tax dollars. However, the spokesperson for the hotel said she was unaware that the hotel had received EU funding.
This story was originally published in EUobserver’s Regions & Cities 2018 magazine.