Europe at war?

European Dialogue

Programme editor
Yoeri Albrecht De Balie
Yoeri Albrecht
In cooperation with
Institut Français
Five years after President Ursula van der Leyen announced the build-up of a “geopolitical commission”, the context has dramatically changed with Europe facing two wars in its immediate neighbourhood. In light of current conflicts, such as the war in Gaza and Ukraine, what kind of geopolitical actor does Europe want to be? Joined by Frans Timmermans, Tom Middendorp and Nathalie Tocci we investigate what a more Geopolitical Europe would mean and entail.

For the past two years, Europe has had to respond to the invasion of one of its immediate neighbours – Ukraine. Although blindsided, European leaders were able to react with measures which would have been unthinkable a few years before. Despite these ground-breaking steps, Europe’s ability to make an impact in the field, militarily or diplomatically, is being questioned. Can Europeans agree on a common narrative when confronted with conflicts of this magnitude? Can Europe speak the language of power while ensuring Rule of Law and democracy within its borders?

In the Face of War — European Dialogue
“In the Face of War – European Dialogue” is initiated by Institut Français and organised in partnership with De Balie, Institut français NL, Arte, Ouest France, Le Grand Continent, and the European Cultural Foundation. The project aims to foster dialogue and debate surrounding the upheavals in Europe instigated by the war in Ukraine. Following a project launch in Prague, and a second edition in autumn 2023, five events will be held during the course of 2024, in Warsaw, Sofia, Helsinki, Amsterdam and Rennes, with others to follow in 2025.

About the speakers

Frans Timmermans is leader of the Dutch GroenLinks-PvdA. Before this he was the Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal and European Commissioner for Climate Action. Timmermans was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands from 2012 to 2014 in the Second Rutte cabinet and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2010 in the Fourth Balkenende cabinet, in charge of European Affairs.

Nathalie Tocci is Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, part-time professor at the School of Transnational Governance (European University Institute), Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen and independent non-executive director of Acea. She has been Special Advisor to EU High Representatives Federica Mogherini and Josep Borrell.

Tom Middendorp is Chairman Committee of the International Military Committee on Climate and Security. He is a retired general of the Royal Netherlands Army. He served as Chief of Defence of the Armed forces of the Netherlands from 2012 until 2017. Middendorp previously served a commander of Task Force Uruzgan part of the International Security Assistance Force.

Rym Momtaz is a multiple Emmy award-winning journalist. In 2010 and 2011, Momtaz served as Special Assistant to the Lebanese Permanent Representative in the United Nations and took part in high-level negotiations over the armed intervention in Libya. She was a correspondent for POLITICO Europe between 2019 and 2022 and currently works as a Consultant Research Fellow for European Foreign Policy and Security, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.


Nathalie TocciDirector of the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs
Frans TimmermansLeader of GroenLinks-PvdA
Tom MiddendorpFormer Chief of Defence in The Netherlands
Rym MomtazJournalist and expert on European foreign policy