The Passage to Europe How a Continent Became a Union Luuk van Middelaar

Publication date:
03 May 2013
Yale University Press
392 pages: 229 x 152mm

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As financial turmoil in Europe preoccupies political leaders and global markets, it becomes more important than ever to understand the forces that underpin the European Union, hold it together and drive it forward. This timely book provides a gripping account of the realities of power politics among European states and between their leaders. Drawing on long experience working behind the scenes, Luuk van Middelaar captures the dynamics and tensions shaping the European Union from its origins until today.

It is a story of unexpected events and twists of fate, bold vision and sheer necessity, told from the perspective of the keyplayers – from de Gaulle to Havel, Thatcher to Merkel. Van Middelaar cuts through the institutional complexity by exploring the unforeseen outcomes of decisive moments and focusing on the quest for public legitimacy.

As a first-hand witness to the day-to-day actions and decisions of Europe’s leaders, the author provides a vivid narrative of the crises and compromises that united a continent. By revisiting the past, he sheds fresh light on the present state of European unification and offers insights into what the future may hold.

More about this title

The Passage to Europe was the winner of the 2012 European Book Prize.

Selected as a Financial Times Book of the Year

Visit The Passage to Europe website

Luuk van Middelaar (born 1973) is a Dutch political philosopher and historian. Since January 2010 Van Middelaar has been the speechwriter and member of the cabinet of Herman Van Rompuy, the first long-term President of the European Council. He studied history and philosophy at the University of Groningen and the Centre Raymond Aron of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In 1999 his masters thesis (doctoraalscriptie in Dutch) Politicide was published. He became for a time the political adviser of Frits Bolkestein and Jozias van Aartsen. From August 2008 to December 2009 he had a political column in NRC Handelsblad. In 2009 he got his Ph.D from the University of Amsterdam. 

Van Middelaar was awarded the Prix de Paris (Prize of Paris) in 1999. His book The Passage to Europe won a number of awards, including the European Book Prize 2012 and the Socrates Prize 2010 for the best philosophy book in Dutch.

'It is a discerning, balanced, gracefully written book, flavoured with the insights of political science but filled with the meat of European Union history over six decades'. Tony Barber, Financial Times

'[Passage to Europe] is a major academic analysis of the European Union, its origin and germination. Van Middelaar has a firm grasp on the philosophical antecedents of modern sovereignty from Hobbes and Locke in the 17th century and the practical political sense to know that just because it doesn’t work in theory doesn’t mean it won’t work in practice'. Gerard Howlin, Irish Examiner

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