The Netherlands is Not a Country, But One Big ‘Hub’ , for Everything

Essay-longread, original: ‘Hub Holland Hub’

It is well known and frequently in the news how Schiphol and KLM defend themselves regarding the impact and number of flights via Schiphol. Especially concerning the ‘hub’ function, meaning that half the world cannot function without us, that if they don’t offer this hub function in Amsterdam, Schiphol and KLM will go bankrupt, and so on. Well, going bankrupt would solve a lot, and people will find other jobs easily, plenty of demand. Stewardesses could go into healthcare, for example. But that’s beside the point.

People who land in Schiphol and directly fly out again, the Netherlands gains nothing from that except negative consequences for its own country. Only Schiphol and KLM benefit, and we, as subjects of our own country, must endure the misery and bear the costs. Directly in noise, among other things, and indirectly in climate change.

What it boils down to is that half the (flying) world just uses the Netherlands, a piece of land that is only good for refueling and flying on, and is otherwise uninteresting, and they leave the damage for us to clean up. Furthermore, these transit flyers are on their way to cause even more damage, through flying itself, or business-wise, to go trading somewhere with more commercial energy and material-consuming (resource-depleting) companies. As a hub, we even facilitate the acceleration of climate damage.

But as I started thinking about this, I saw even more similarities in other sectors with this so-called hub function.

The Meat Hub

What is livestock farming essentially in the Netherlands? It’s also just a hub function where raw materials arrive as imports, are stuffed into a cow or pig until it is fattened up, and then flown or shipped as meat to the rest of the world. Dead meat, in this case. The Netherlands is the biggest meat hub in Europe, with 60% of all meat destined for export (and it’s also the largest importer of raw materials for it). For pigs, it’s even more: 75% is export (of 14.5 million pigs…). The feed grains for Dutch pigs consist of 85% wheat and barley from Germany, France, and Belgium, and corn from Ukraine and North and South America. The impact is enormous, from all materials, additives, food, etc. So besides being a human hub, we are also a pig (meat) hub.

The Fruit Hub

And what about fruit: Only 24% of fruit exports are of Dutch origin. The rest is earlier import: a fruit hub. Most fruit comes from outside Europe and is destined for within Europe, which might be justifiable, as it is unprocessed, and distribution must take place somewhere. But it remains a hub, i.e., transit.

The Flower Hub

The Netherlands is the largest exporter of cut flowers in the world. The global trade in cut flowers amounts to 7.4 billion dollars, of which 3.3 billion dollars is exported by the Netherlands! Not all of it is transit, but in 2017, 1.7 million tons of cut flowers were transported to and from Schiphol. For example, nearly half of Kenya’s flower production ends up on Dutch soil, mostly by plane, to be auctioned here and flown out again two hours later.

Agriculture in total

Of all agricultural-related imports, 70% eventually ends up abroad. The majority directly as re-export (43%) and the remaining part after processing in the Netherlands (27%). This means that 30% of agricultural imports stay in the Netherlands, with 17% directly for Dutch consumption and 13% consumed after processing in the Netherlands. So, 70% is transit in some form, the hub function, where we fiddle around a bit and then pass it on.

The Steel Hub

Not every country can produce all raw materials itself, but in this case, the Netherlands also does not have these raw materials, all metal ore is imported, and again for an enormous hub function. In the Netherlands, the import of iron, ‘primary and processed’: 22.5 million tons, and the export: 18.1 million tons. Perhaps the difference is even partly losses in the process. In any case, about 80% is hub function, partly after processing it into steel or products, emitting massive amounts of CO2.

The Energy Hub

We are (or were) also the gas roundabout of Europe, which is just another word for hub. We didn’t need to import gas ourselves; the gas roundabout had to run on Dutch and Russian gas… That’s turned out differently lately; you hardly hear about it anymore. We are now also an importer of gas and a major transit country. Opportunistically, we now want to become Europe’s hydrogen roundabout (read: hub). Everyone wants to make money by exploiting the Netherlands. We were also for long a the roundabout for oil and coal, as a hub for the hinterland, via the port of Rotterdam.

The Money Hub

Is it still necessary to say much about this? Who hasn’t followed the reports about the Netherlands as a tax haven, as a country to funnel money through? For the money world, we are just a large park with mailboxes. A money hub. Dip into the Netherlands, and you have avoided a lot of taxes. In 2019, the Netherlands had 12,400 mailbox companies, worth about 4500 billion euros, 5.5 times the gross domestic product. But it hardly generates any extra jobs, and the treasury doesn’t get filled either.

The Data Hub

The Netherlands is a popular country for data centers. Not for its own data, but mainly for global players who transmit data globally. And if there’s one thing that tuns out to be a huge burden on the Netherlands, it’s this: in 2019, the demand for renewable energy from data centers grew faster than the addition of offshore wind turbines. And the entire offshore production was not sufficient for all data centers. In other words: We build wind farms, but we do not green our own lives; it all goes grossly to the data centers, who contract the wind production..

The Knowledge Hub

We are also a knowledge hub, judging by how fanatically universities and colleges try to attract foreign students. Come here to get your knowledge, it’s on sale, and then fly back to your own country. That trend seems to be changing somewhat, mainly because there is no temporary housing for all those students, but we’ll have to see how that develops. On the other hand, we bring in knowledge workers by the bucketload. Not to make our own country better but to develop and make products that go abroad again. And we eagerly facilitate this with subsidies and discounts for those knowledge workers, with investments in infrastructure at the expense of local residents, and we have to accept the exploding housing prices.

The Mussel Hub

And even mussels ‘hub’… as I learned a while ago from the TV-show “Keuringsdienst van Waarde”: the mussels arrive from Ireland, are dipped in the province Zeeland water for two minutes, and then can be resold as real Zeeland mussels (‘Zeeuwse mosselen’) . Most go abroad. The mussel hub, thus.

The Drugs/Cocaine Hub

“Netherlands, like Spain, is an important distribution or transit hub for cocaine trade in Europe,” writes the police in a report. Coming in via Rotterdam, (and almost all the cocaine that comes in via Antwerp, Belgium first goes to the Netherlands) to be distributed around Europe.

Not illogical that cocaine comes here, we have enriched ourselves in Europe at the expense of countries in other continents, so that cocaine, coming from those same countries, is most profitable to sell here. Simple economics.

In Summary

In short, we are actually a kind of no man’s land that everyone uses at their convenience. The Netherlands is nothing more to the rest of the world than one big hub, a transit port, a temporary storage. And actively sold out by the government: ‘Come hub here. Hub Holland Hub’. We gain nothing from it, except that a few commercial companies get rich, and some of us have jobs. But the jobs are more urgently needed in education, healthcare, the energy transition, housing construction, or you name it. But they are sucked away by big money and now work in a web of companies that only function as a relay station.

However, all the disadvantages are a burden for the inhabitants of the Netherlands: we are one of the highest CO2 emitters in the world and have to invest the transition to renewables. But we also have to invest our money to provide all those transients and transit trades, dead or alive, with sustainable energy, and thus build again extra wind farms and solar fields. A transition that is already faltering. Everything is aimed at enticing people to consume more than necessary, obesity in everything. Not aimed at meeting needs. More money, more turnover, more growth. But also more depletion, more pollution, more nature damage, etc. And all that in the most densely populated country in Europe (except for dwarf state Malta), and one of the top 5 in the world! And after the US, the country with the greatest income inequality. Exactly, between those shareholders and the sluggers who try to keep the country afloat.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t do anything anymore, but you have to ask yourself if you want to let the Netherlands be prostituted by the rest of the world: as a stranger who comes to hub and then disappears into nothingness. And that while we do not have our own essential affairs in order, and striving for a sustainable society requires entirely different provisions and production.

It’s Either ‘Imdustry’ or ‘Exdustry’…

Hubbing is selling out your country. Ideally, everything you import should be for the domestic market, and from what you can extract and produce from your own resources, part of that could be exported. Then you are making your own country better in a balanced way. But now, as a hub country, you only exhaust yourself to supposedly add value, value meaning to make more profit.

Regarding depleting and overburdening our country, just look at what all this hubbing does to the housing market: more and more people are needed to facilitate this hubbing, who have to be brought in from abroad (and whose added value goes abroad: export), but for whom homes need to be built (using raw materials). Incidentally, which only can be done with more and more foreign construction workers… Of course, that gets stuck somewhere. So, no hubbing: either you are an ‘Imdustry’ or an ‘Exdustry’, but not both.

Clinging to that hub model, and facilitating it against better judgment with more wind turbines, more raw materials, more global trade and transport, more exhausting land use, only leads to a large industrial island that takes us to the abyss, and not to a livable country for its inhabitants.

Holland, or Hubland. It’s all justified with ‘money.’ But that is precisely the problem. Money is not a natural phenomenon, not a physical quantity. The monetary system as we know it now is designed to deplete or appropriate as much as possible as quickly as possible. And in the Netherlands, we have lost sight of our own assets. The most densely populated country in Europe, and top 5 in the world. Also, half threatened by, among other things, sea level rise. And we own nothing anymore: everything is mortgaged and sold, especially to foreigners (even our renewable energy like wind farms is not ours, but mainly owned by foreign commercial investors), so how are we going to survive here when trouble comes? We’ll have money, but no land to live off, which is used by everyone except ourselves. Except for a few who have funneled their money abroad and can live elsewhere. And oh yes, that applies even domestically: the provinces of Groningen and Limburg have long been, or still are, considered colonies. The Golden Age was only for ‘Holland,’ and even this century, they are being emptied, gas and coal, all to make the hub function possible. Essentially, Holland is just a big ‘Maasvlakte,’ silted up and still expanding. One consolation, there is an end in sight, as the sea level rises further. Then that sand delta, that hub, will disappear by itself. Blub Holland Blub. 😉

This story originally appeared as episodes on LinkedIn.

*Tata, by the way, accounts for seven million tons of (primary) steel annually: 90 percent of all Duracell batteries in the world contain steel made in IJmuiden. (And that iron ore doesn’t come from the Netherlands either)

**Thanks to Leo Hazelzet

***Thanks to Jolein Schorel!

References ( mainly in Dutch language)





De totale Nederlandse vleesketen was in 2020 goed voor bijna 100.000 voltijdbanen en 1,1 procent van het bruto binnenlands product (bbp)

maar als de landbouw energetisch ositief zou produceen, dan zijn er alleen al 50.000 banen daar extra. En dat in d ebuiyten;lucht, ipv van in bedompte hallen alleen maar vlees staan te slachten.

[3] Ruim 100 miljoen mensen in 140 landen consumeren dagelijks vlees van Nederlandse makelij.





[7] rapport






[13] geld

[14] ‘Nederland blinkt wereldwijd uit in verdachte brievenbusfirma’s’

[15] zie

[16] Uit het boek: ‘Post fossiel leven’ :

[17] buitenlandse studenten:



Author: ronald rovers