Hallo Venlo

Venlo is qua inwoneraantal de tweede stad van Limburg maar straalt dat niet uit. Plannen op het gebied van economie, stadsontwikkeling en cultuur moeten daar verandering in brengen. RadarLimburg ging op zoek naar wat Venlo Venlo maakt. "Het volume van Venlo is bij het ego van de Venlonaar gaan passen."  


Venlo zal volgens Jan Brouwers van citymarketingbedrijf Venlo Partners nooit een échte studentenstad worden. Hoe gaat Venlo zich de komende jaren profileren? Bert Mennings (Limburgs Museum) en Paulo Martina (Museum Van Bommel Van Dam) beloven samen op te trekken om Venlo een nieuw cultureel profiel te geven. Ook kan Venlo binnenkort een goede sier maken met Nationaal Park De Maasduinen.


De gedachte is dat grensoverschrijdende criminaliteit tussen Limburg en Duitsland toeneemt, maar er zijn geen cijfers die dat staven. Wat wel meetbaar is, is dat de regio Noord-Limburg de meeste Duitse werknemers heeft. 


Een vijver middenin het stadscentrum vertelt het verleden over Venlo als vestigingstad. In een tijdlijn lees je alles over de opknapbeurt van de beruchte Venlose wijk Q4 die al tientallen jaren duurt. Jasper Kuntzelaers (PvdA) vertelt hoe de verhouding tussen Noord- en Zuid-Limburg vervaagde en hoe het kleine Venlo tegenover het grote Maastricht verdween.


De vastelaovend, de dynamische stedenbouw en het 'genäöl' zijn kenmerken die bijdragen aan de identiteit van Venlo. Ook supermarkt Die 2 Brüder is onmiskenbaar in de binnenstad. De stad is volgens columnist Sef Derkx de meest Duitse stad van Nederland. Volgens stadsgeograaf Jos Gadet is Venlo in Duitsland veel bekender dan in Nederland. 


Thinking on the flip side – Polish workers in Venlo

Essay: Polish workers in Venlo
Essay: Polish workers in Venlo
Muzna Hatmi
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The influx of Poles migrating to the Netherlands has been on a rise since the last decades. The Polish people, who leave their homes behind to seek a better future for themselves and their families are greatly affected by Polish stereotypes present among some Dutch people.


The influx of Poles migrating to the Netherlands has been on a rise since the last decades. The Polish people, who leave their homes behind to seek a better future for themselves and their families are greatly affected by Polish stereotypes present among some Dutch people.

The media seems to have played a huge role in creating a negative image of the Poles, often associating the group with money laundering, robbery, and frauds. Such accusations have been heavily influenced under the right-wing party of Geert Wilders.


Previously, a Dutch website has even opened a complaint section where people have been encouraged to report Polish misbehavior.

In a recent example, the local residents of Belfeld have appealed against the municipality’s decision to renovate a former motel into a hostel for Polish workers in the area. The decision has been put on hold until June under the perception that these workers, mostly men, will cause inconvenience to the residents when they hang out.


While the locals in Belfeld say they do not mind the migrants themselves, they also do not want them residing in nearby spaces. Reportedly, such behavior creates an isolation between both groups, decreasing chances of any possible integration.


The Poles who are denied proper housing, employment, and health facilities find it incredibly difficult to integrate into Dutch societies. While these factors play an important role in social integration, housing is especially essential for physical and mental wellbeing and directly linked to feelings of safety, often a reason why they leave their home country. It seems unfair that their need to find safety elsewhere, presumably in their interactions with other Poles is used as a reason against their presence in the Netherlands.

But this is already happening.

Frances McGinty and Mérove Gijsberts in their research on Polish migrants in the Netherlands say that Poles strive to preserve a positive social identity which leads them to form in-group discrimination, that is, having negative perceptions about their own groups.

Class division

A similar study presents interviews with Polish employees in the Netherlands who share many internal differences within their groups. These employees find the necessity to distinguish between themselves and seasonal workers, so that their personal relationships with the Dutch community are not affected. In other words, the Dutch attitude towards Polish immigration is causing a class division within the Polish community.

The Dutch neighbor state, Germany seems to be doing much better dealing with Polish workers. Polish discrimination in Germany is 15% less compared to the Netherlands, where it is 40%.

Lowest paid group

Germany, also a border state to Poland, opened its labor market in 2011 only a few years after The Netherlands in 2007. By law, Polish workers in Germany are required to be remunerated like German workers, allowing them a minimum period of holidays, maximum working hours and a safe working environment. In the Netherlands, polish workers are the lowest paid group and 17% live in poverty, according to the national statistics office CBS. While the Poles work extremely long hours, they only earn a third less than the Dutch on average.

Once the Polish workers have been living in the Netherlands for long, job prospects get much better, says the Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau SCP.


Research says that employability is considered the most important factor in cross-cultural integration. In the Netherlands, many Poles are denied employment because they do not have sufficient qualifications. However, when employee prospects with qualifications do bring forward their applications, they are rejected.

Economic independence promotes the ability to learn a foreign language, social security, along with other forms of self-improvement. 

Poles are a considerably isolated group in the Netherlands, subject to many common negative perceptions and are often disliked for their conservative beliefs. On the flip side, one female polish worker says that she left Poland to live in an open-minded society. Upon arrival, the Poles experience a much more close-minded behavior from the Dutch towards them.

In North Limburg, perspectives are changing.

Kumpel Project

Horst aan de Maas has started a ‘Kumpel Project,’ translated from Polish as the ‘buddy project,’ aiming at spreading awareness regarding Polish living conditions in Limburg. The project wishes to bring the Dutch and Poles closer to one another to ensure a well-integrated society. The project also recognizes the need for the comfort of Polish groups living in a Dutch society and offers free initiatives such as language training to achieve this goal.

* Muzna Hatmi is currently a second-year student at University College Maastricht, focused on an interdisciplinary concentration in the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Reference List


  1. West Pomeranian Business School Szczecin, Poland, (2012).  CROSS-BORDER LABOUR MOBILITY BETWEEN POLAND-GERMANY
  2. Frances McGinnity, Merove Gijsberts, (2016). A threat in the air? Perceptions of group discrimination in the first years after migration: Comparing Polish Migrants in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland. Ethnicities
  3. Cok Vrooman, Edith Josten, Stella Ho, Lisa Putman, Jean Marie Wildeboer Schut. (2018). Summary, when a job isn’t enough Research into the working poor in five European countries and twenty Dutch municipalities. The Netherlands Institute for Social Research
  4. Mérove Gijsberts, Iris Andriessen, Han Nicolaas, Willem Huijnk, (2018). Bouwend aan een toekomst in Nederland
  5. Pawe? Kaczmarczyk, (2017).  Polish migrants in the Netherlands Facts, myths and challenges. Centre of Migration Research University of Warsaw

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