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).
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 and has been translated into Brazilian (2016).
Van Middelaar’s international breakthrough came with The Passage to Europe (Dutch original: De passage naar Europe, 2009) which was translated into ten languages, including French, English, German, Polish, Spanish and Chinese. The book was awarded among others the Socrates Prize 2010 for the best Dutch philosophy book, the European Book Prize 2012 and the Prix Louis Marin of the French Académie des Sciences morales et politiques.
Autumn 2017, the author published De nieuwe politiek van Europa, a frontline narrative of the European Union’s recent crisis years and a cool assessment of its political metamorphosis; French and English translations are in preparation.
Together with Belgian political philosopher Philippe Van Parijs, Luuk van Middelaar edited After the Storm. How to save democracy in Europe (2015), a volume with contributions by European intellectuals including Jürgen Habermas, Ivan Krastev, David Miller, Pierre Rosanvallon and Larry Siedentop. Previously, Van Middelaar was guest editor of an academic volume on utopian thought, practice and architecture: Utopie. Utopisch denken, doen en bouwen (2003).
Articles and other publications
Since early 2015, Van Middelaar is a weekly columnist on European and foreign affairs for Dutch NRC Handelsblad, published two-weekly in Flemish De Tijd. His essays and comments appear regularly in DIE ZEIT, Le Monde, The Guardian and other newspapers across Europe.
In his academic capacity, he has contributed to numerous book volumes and peer-reviewed academic journals, such as the European Constitutional Law Review and the Journal of Common Market Studies.
Since July 2015, Van Middelaar 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 chair in European Studies at the University of Louvain, dedicated to the study of European values.
In the summer of 2017, he was an Academic Visitor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. Previously, Van Middelaar was a researcher at the Centre Raymond Aron of the EHESS in Paris (2000-2002) as well as at the University of Amsterdam’s Germany Institute, DIA (2007-2009).
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. Currently, Van Middelaar is an unpaid Special advisor to the European Commission’s First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans.
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).