What do a microbiologist, an entrepreneur, a journalist and a Member of Parliament have in common?
They are all European Young Leaders who are engaged in making Europe a global champion for a better world.
The European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme, organised by Friends of Europe, is a unique, inventive and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents and initiatives.
The European Young Leaders represent promising European leadership from all over the continent, with a wide variety of backgrounds including politics, business, civil society, academia, arts, science and the media.
Every year, they meet for two three-day seminars in symbolic European cities, joined by decision-makers, stakeholders and key European actors to discuss issues of common concern and develop concrete proposals and recommendations to tackle the challenges facing Europe and its citizens.
The European Young Leaders now represent a network of more than 180 alumni.
The programme was initially conceived with EuropaNova, a Paris-based think-tank.
Named a ‘Rising Star’ by the BBC Music Magazine, Alexandra made her debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York. An award-winning Romanian pianist, she has performed in many prestigious orchestras, such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Recipient of several awards and honours, she has been listed as one of the ’30 Pianists under 30 Destined for a Spectacular Career’ by the International Piano Magazine. In addition to her musical achievements, Alexandra received the UK’s Women of the Future Award in the Arts and Culture category, making her an ambassador and symbol of success in the classical music industry. In late 2017, the world premiere of her own production, “The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu”, took place in London – a ground-breaking multimedia performance created for a piano solo with dance and digital animation.
Sebastien is the COO of Saildrone, a company designing wind and solar powered ocean drones aiming at revolutionising data collection at sea. He is also a founding partner of Graph Ventures, an early stage angel fund with a portfolio of over 100 start-ups. Sebastien co-founded Playfish, which was one of the largest and fastest growing social gaming companies with over 300 million players, before being acquired by video game giant Electronic Arts (EA) in 2009.
Carole Dieschbourg served as a municipal councillor in Echternach from 2011 to 2013, when she was appointed to the government as Minister of the Environment. At the time she was the youngest member of the cabinet and the only Green Minister of the Environment in Europe. Carole represented the European Union during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, which coincided with Luxembourg’s Presidency of the EU Council. Her role was to ensure that the EU had a coordinated position during the conference. In the run-up to the COP21, she also represented the EU at many bilateral meetings and high-level conferences such as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue and the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF).
Tishani is an Indian-Welsh dancer, poet and freelance writer. Currently based in Madras, India, Tishani divides her time between dancing for one of India’s leading choreographers, Chandralekha, and writing pieces for publications such as The Guardian, Corriere della Sera, The New York Times, The Hindu, The National, India Today, Outlook, Tricycle, Vogue and Elle. Her written work has garnered her various awards such as the prestigious Forward Prize (UK) for Best First Collection (2006) for her debut collection of poems, and she was selected to represent India at the 2012 Poetry Parnassus Cultural Olympics in London. Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers, was published to critical acclaim in 2010, and has been translated into multiple languages. Her latest book is a collection of poems, Everything Begins Elsewhere, and has been published in India, the UK and the USA.
Xavier is a synthetic biologist and entrepreneur who was named French Innovator of the Year by MIT Technology Review in 2015. He co-founded Eligo Bioscience, where he has developed a system that uses genetic editing techniques and nanotechnology and designs new types of medicine to eliminate specific bacteria and leave the others intact. After winning several start-up competitions, the company has recently raised €2.4m in seed funding. Xavier also co-founded Hello Tomorrow, a global non-profit organisation that aims to accelerate science and tech innovation by empowering start-ups and offering cash prizes and connections with industrials and investors. Xavier is a senior adviser to the French government on emerging technologies and their impact on industry.
A lawyer by training, Muna is passionate about politics. During her studies, she was the international secretary of Socialist Youth Austria and worked for the French Socialist Party. After graduation, she became a local councillor in the Vienna-Donaustadt district at the age of 23. In 2010, she joined the Austrian Federal Council where she became the Social Democrat spokesperson on foreign policy. Six years later, she was nominated as Secretary of State in the Office of the Federal Chancellery. Muna is also the President of the Palestinian-Austrian Society, a group that aims to deepen exchanges between Austrians and Palestinians and play an active part in Austrian society by promoting anti-racist, democratic and transnational programmes.
Lukasz is a Senior Manager responsible for European structured finance at the Warsaw-based PKO Bank Polski, where he works on projects related to energy, transport and the environment with budgets ranging from €50 million to €1 billion. He is also a member of the management board for the Marguerite Fund 2020 for Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure in Luxembourg. There, Lukasz oversees the formulation of financial and operational strategies. He is also on the supervisory board of Pomeranka Development, InvestGas and Energa Operator in Poland, and of PZU Ukraine Insurance Company and Kredobank, also in Ukraine. Lukasz began his career as an adviser in the European Parliament, focusing on energy policy and security as well as EU relations with Russia and Ukraine.
Agnieszka is among Poland’s most recognised social activists and a strong advocate of women’s rights. In 2015, she was instrumental in leading demonstrations that became known as ‘Black Monday’, in which Polish women protested against anti-abortion laws. Days after Black Monday, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against the proposal and the Minister of Science and Higher Education Jaroslaw Gowin said the protests “caused us to think and taught us humility.” Agnieszka is a board member of the leftist Razem party and, in 2016, was listed as one of top 100 most influential Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Journal.
Colum has been at the heart of the post-conflict success story in Derry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland. He was only 27 years old when he was elected as the city’s mayor in 2010. In this position, he championed Derry as a city of culture and transformed its image. Throughout the years, Colum continuously stood against dissident republican violence and steadfastly called for an end to terrorist activities by armed groups. Following his election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011, Colum was appointed as the SDLP representative on the committee overseeing the work of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. He currently sits on the Committee for Communities, which plays a key role in debating and developing legislation.
Othman El Ferdaous is a public affairs and strategic communication professional, listed among the 50 most influential Moroccans under 40 by Telquel Magazine in 2016. He is a strong advocate for EU-Maghreb integration and founded clubgibraltar.org, a non-profit organization aiming to provide a "South-North" perspective on European affairs, especially policy and institutions matters regarding the Mediterranean and Africa. He is also a board member of Sciences Po Alumni Morocco, focused on fostering reverse brain drain by mentoring Moroccan students. He releases a monthly newsletter covering Moroccan issues read by +7000 subscribers.
The selection process for the Class of 2018 is closed and we are now in the process of announcing those who have been selected.
To find out more about the first 20 candidates to be announced as part of the Class of 2018, please click here.
Keep an eye on our website and social media for all updates regarding the programme and news from our Young Leaders!
The next selection process for candidates will open in early 2018.