Speaking at a meeting of members of European national parliaments taking place under the auspices of Latvia's six-month EU Presidency, Timmermans took a variety of questions from parliamentarians, one of which prompted his heartfelt speech.
Stressing the need for rule of law throughout Europe, Timmermans said: "There is regression, I have to say.
"There is rising anti-Semitism, there is rising Islamophobia, there is rising homophobia. There is rising attacks on something that I would not have thought possible, even my mother couldn't have imagined this - there are people who are actually challenging the position of women in European society.
"This cannot happen. We need to put the rule of law front and center in our European discussions because if we don't have that, we have nothing.
"If Jews in this Europe cannot feel at home, Europe is finished.
"If Jews believe their future is not in Europe, Europe has no future. And this applies to Muslims alike - and to other minorities. If gay people think they have to go back into the closet, we have no future for Europe."