A sweeping and unorthodox history of contemporary European politics
by Luuk van Middelaar

The Passage to Europe

Luuk van Middelaar

Luuk van Middelaar (born 1973) is a political theorist and historian. He is a professor of EU law and European studies at the universities of Leiden and Louvain and a political commentator for NRC Handelsblad and De Tijd.
The author of The Passage to Europe, he was the chief speechwriter and a close advisor to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy (2010-2014). Van Middelaar published his first book, Politicide, in 1999. Since its original publication in 2009, The Passage to Europe has received the Socrates Prize for the best Dutch philosophy book and the European Book Prize 2012.


Van Middelaar has a PhD in philosophy from the University of Amsterdam (2009). He studied history and philosophy at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (1991-1999), including a year at Sorbonne in Paris (1993-1994), and did a postgraduate in Political studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (1999-2000).

Other books and articles

The author’s first book, Politicide, is a critical study of post-war French political philosophy. It was widely acclaimed in the Netherlands and won the Prix de Paris in 1999. It was re-edited in 2011; French and Brazilian translations are in preparation.

Since running the book section of the philosophical monthly Filosofie Magazine while still a student (1996-1998), Van Middelaar was a regular contributor of essays and book reviews to de Volkskrant and Trouw (2000-2006), had a two-weekly foreign affairs column in NRC Handelsblad (2008- 2009) and has published articles in Le Monde, the Wall Street Journal, Die Zeit. He has contributed to numerous book volumes and peer-reviewed academic journals, such as the European Constitutional Law Review.

Van Middelaar also was the guest editor of an academic volume on utopian thought, practice and architecture: Utopie. Utopisch denken, doen en bouwen (2003).

Academic posts

From 2000 to 2002, Van Middelaar was a researcher at the Centre Raymond Aron of the E.H.E.S.S. in Paris. From 2007 to 2009 he was a researcher at the University of Amsterdam’s Germany Institute (DIA). Since July 2015, he holds the part-time chair "Foundations and practice of the European Union and its institutions" at the Law Faculty of Leiden University. Since September 2015, he also holds a Fondation Louvain chair in European Studies at the University of Louvain, dedicated to the study of European values.

Political experience

From 2010 until 2014, Van Middelaar worked as the chief speechwriter and an advisor to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. The main speeches of Van Rompuy, including his acclaimed 2012 Nobel Lecture in Oslo, can be found here. He also spent three transitional months with current President Donald Tusk.

The author worked twice before as political advisor: in 2002-2004 in the private office of European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein and from 2004 to 2006 as political secretary of the liberal VVD group in Dutch parliament, advising group leader Jozias van Aartsen.


Luuk van Middelaar is married to artist Manon de Boer. They have one child, Julius (born 2009).