Maritime Strategy to strengthen the Netherlands’ top position

With Rotterdam, the Netherlands boasts the largest port in Europe, the Dutch inland shipping fleet has the largest European market share, the Netherlands is the main producer of super yachts and the Dutch offshore and hydraulics sectors rank among the world top. However, maintaining our top position is not a matter of course, considering the growth among ports in countries such as Brazil, China and South Africa. This requires a joint approach from the government and the maritime cluster. Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and the Environment) recently submitted the very first “maritime strategy” to the House of Representatives. This strategy needs to boost the international sustained maritime top position of the Netherlands.

‘The maritime strategy is unique, as it has been established in collaboration with all the maritime partners. We have taken this important step to preserve and strengthen our maritime top position in the world,’ Minister Schultz van Haegen commented.

The Dutch maritime cluster is active in all continents and comprises inland shipping, ports, maritime services (including maritime educational establishments and knowledge institutes), maritime suppliers, offshore companies, the shipbuilding industry, fishery, hydraulics, the aquatic industry and sea shipping. This cluster, including the port industrial complex, accounts for 7.3 per cent of the gross national product and provides employment for nearly 440,000 persons (5 per cent of job opportunities in the Netherlands).


The maritime strategy is composed of six themes:

  1. Human Capital: the aim is to have more young people opting for maritime study programmes and a maritime profession. Good education, a distinctive nature and a positive image across the cluster are essential in this respect.
  2. Innovation: a sound knowledge basis requires close collaboration between companies, knowledge institutes and the government. For example, the government is creating more scope for experimenting with innovative types of ships.
  3. Trade: an attractive business climate with a European and global level playing field is essential to do business. The focus of the government is on European guidelines for sea ports, unequivocal international regulations and international collaboration among inspectorates.
  4. Accessibility: the government and the business community will join forces to achieve a seamless transport network and integration of maritime transport into the logistics chain.
  5. Safety and the Environment: the government and the business community are concentrating on safe and clean ships. The business community and waterway users are working on reducing the human factor in accidents.
  6. Security Threats and Stability: national and international collaboration between civil and maritime military actors is essential whenever Dutch maritime interests at sea and in coastal areas are threatened.

Collaboration is crucial

The challenges in maritime core themes, such as employment opportunities, innovation, trade, logistics, safety and the environment, are becoming increasingly complex. In many cases, both private and public interests are at stake. For that reason, the Maritime Strategy not only involves collaboration between the national government, employers and employees, but also collaboration between decentralised governments, knowledge institutes, educational establishments and NGOs in the field of, for example, nature, the environment and health.