Luuk van Middelaar is a political theorist and historian. The author of the prizewinning The Passage to Europe (2013), he recently published Le Réveil géopolitique de l’Europe (2022), Pandemonium (2021) and Alarums and Excursions (2019), groundbreaking accounts of the Union’s crisis politics.


Saving Europe


Over the past decade the European Union has faced threats to its currency, borders and unity. Covid-19, which began its inexorable spread across Europe in February 2020, is the latest crisis to test the Union’s resilience.

Luuk van Middelaar’s compelling analysis of the EU’s response to the pandemic details how events and decisions unfolded, how crisis solutions were improvised in a situation of deep uncertainty, and the lessons it must learn if it is to continue to protect its citizens.

As member states shut their borders and scrambled for supplies, the European Union at first appeared irrelevant. But once shaken from its torpor by a public cry for help, the EU has coordinated a formidable response to the chaos, including an unprecedented level of financial assistance. This reaction, argues van Middelaar, demonstrates the Union’s enduring strength and how it has learnt to deal with real world events. Indeed, the EU’s response to the pandemic reveals how far it has come on its journey from regulatory body to geopolitical actor.

The pandemic highlighted that Europe’s next challenge will most likely come from its uneasy position between a strategically assertive China and a more self-centred United States. Facing this will require a greater political will than that mustered in the health emergency. To become a true power among powers, Van Middelaar contends, Europe must give firmer political shape to its own historical and cultural identity.

Pandemonium cements Luuk van Middelaar’s position as one of the most insightful commentators on EU politics. His powerful analysis will be welcomed by anyone seeking to understand Europe’s dynamics and changing geopolitical role.

year 2021
publisher Agenda Publishing
translation Liz Waters

“Essential thinking and obligatory reading from one of Europe’s most important intellectuals.”
– Ben Judah

“A gripping account of European resilience, Pandemonium is a clarion call for unity and coherence. The book provides a realistic and much needed antidote to the persistent gloom clouding the Union’s future. Offering an illuminating mix of analysis and history to demonstrate the catalyzing effect of the pandemic’s aftershocks, Luuk van Middelaar reveals with electrifying clarity the urgency for EU strategic autonomy in a post-Pax Americana world.”
– Ana Palacio, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain

“Gripping, dramatic and often epic, Luuk van Middelaar views the pandemic with the eyes of a political anatomist, dissecting the moment when political order is created out of the chaos and tragedy of life. Is the pandemic a new beginning? Written by one of the world’s foremost experts on European politics, this is one of the first books to raise this question in the serious manner that it deserves.”
– Bruno Maçães, former Secretary of State for European Affairs of Portugal

“This wonderful book offers an original, penetrating and compelling account of why the pandemic has forged a sense of common destiny rather than disintegration among Europeans. It cements Luuk van Middelaar’s reputation as the leading theorist and most gripping chronicler of our continent’s improbable but inspiring ‘passage to Europe’ through crisis management rather than federalist blueprints. Packed with insight and sparkling with ideas, it is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the tough choices Europeans must make to preserve their liberty, prosperity and power in the face of geopolitical competition.”
– Mark Leonard, Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations

“Luuk van Middelaar continues the analysis of the European Union’s twenty-first-century crises that he began in his excellent Alarums and Excursions with this sharp-eyed and optimistic first take on the EU’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
– Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies, University of Oxford

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