Dr. Hilde Hardeman reflects on the war in Ukraine, with the lens of an academic of the region who has devoted her life to working for the European Union with the goal of a peaceful and prosperous Europe. We also talk about Relais pour la Vie with Claudia Gaebel.

This week my show starts with a round up of the week's news with Sasha Kehoe, newsreader from The Sam Steen Show. We discuss lighter aspects of the news such as "I have a Crush on Zelensky. I'm pretty sure everyone does." by Caitlin Moran at The Times! And more besides...

You can listen to the show on the RTL Today Radio player - right here!

My main guest is Dr. Hilde Hardeman, Director General of the Publications Office of the European Union, a post she took up in December 2021.

Prior to that, her vast experience of work in service of the European Commission since 1994 includes:

  • Head of the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
  • Deputy Head of Cabinet to the Commission's Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness
  • head of the Commission President's briefing team
  • in charge of the units for relations with Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

Hilde Hardeman holds a Ph.D. in Slavic philology and history from the University of Leuven, having studied at Leuven, Stanford University and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.

Through her vast knowledge of the Russian people and its history, and her career with the Commission, we talk about how dialogue progressed through the years to where we see ourselves now.  Dr Hardeman talks about the fundamental need for peace. As a child, growing up in Ypres, she was very aware of it being a World War I front.  There was only one tree in the entire region that predates the war. The whole city had to be rebuilt after being flattened in 1918. The whole landscape is scarred by bombs, to this day.

Her grandparents grew up as refugees in France. Here is a picture of her Grandfather: the youngest of three little boys who had to move to France.


© Dr. Hilde Hardeman and family

In the sixties and seventies, her parents and others recorded stories of those who had lived through the wars and produced their memories and testimonies in a book available in French and Dutch. They also raise funds for a garden dedicated to the constant flow of refugees, from which we all descend.

And a little bit about the Publications Office of the EU: they handle an enormous amount of data and are the official provider of

  • publishing and open data management services to all EU institutions.
  • the central point for EU and case law, publications, open data, research results, procurement notices and other official information. 
  • Their mission is to make all of this information available to all EU policy makers, public administrations, citizens and businesses. 
  • They have to work hard in figuring out how to disseminate information, hold long term data well, and flow with the digitalisation of data.


My second guest is Claudia Gaebel, Head of Communication & Fundraising at Fondation Cancer, the Cancer Foundation Luxembourg, and organised the first Relais pour la Vie in Luxembourg in 2006. It has grown from 3000 runners to 14000 participants in the last in-person event in 2019.

Relais pour la Vie is taking place this weekend, where teams of people run or walk for 24 hours to raise money and think about the life of a cancer patient for one whole day. There's still time to register a team and participate.

The Cancer Foundation has three pillars of care: awareness for cancer prevention, support for cancer patients and their families, and research funding.

Dr. Hilde Hardeman and Claudia Gaebel

RTL Today Radio

You can listen to the show on the RTL Today Radio player - right here!

My show will be available every Saturday at 11am, repeated on Sunday at noon, and also available as a podcast on Apple, Spotify - wherever you reach them. Send me feedback and get in touch!

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