European Young Leaders


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 programme is supported by renowned and solid foundations such as the Fondazione Cariplo and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation.

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.

Meet the European Young Leaders
Alexandre Farto
Street Artist

Alexandre, known under the tag name ‘Vhils’, is a Portuguese street artist, best known for his urban murals, his use of urban settings – walls, doors, debris – as ‘canvasses’ or materials for his art, as well as the destructive processes by which he constructs art. Alexandre studied in London, and gained prominence when his work was showcased at the Cans Festival in London. As well as technically and visually innovative, Alexandre’s art has a social function as it attempts to cast a spotlight on situations of social injustice, and to create a dialogue around these. His work has since continued to gain recognition, with his work appearing in cities worldwide and he has been featured alongside street artists of the likes of Banksy.

Jorge Juan Fernandez Garcia
Director of Innovation, EIT Health

As EIT Health’s Director of Innovation, Jorge plays a vital role in shaping the wide range of innovation projects developed and supported by the organisation. Previously, Jorge was Director of E-Health within the Innovation Department at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona – a key example of a European healthcare provider using online care, telemedicine, mobile apps and health 2.0 tools to put the patient at the centre of care – and Director of Moebio, which develops healthcare entrepreneurs and future leaders. Jorge has more than 18 years of experience, with the last eight years fully dedicated to innovation, technology and entrepreneurship at the intersection of business, government, and academia. He regularly acts as advisor and mentor to healthcare start-ups and entrepreneurial acceleration programs, helping to create a stronger ecosystem in the biomedical and healthcare industries. 

Mary Fitzgerald
Libya Analyst, Award-Winning Journalist and European Young Leader

Mary is a journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She has worked on Libya since 2011 and lived there throughout 2014. Her work has appeared in publications including the Economist, Foreign Policy, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Financial Times and the Guardian. She has conducted research on Libya for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMED) among others. She is a contributing author to an edited volume on the Libyan revolution published by Oxford University Press. In her previous role as Irish Times foreign affairs correspondent, she reported from 40 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. She is a member of the Global Women's Forum 'Rising Talents' network.

Christina Fonseca
Co-Founder of Talkdesk

Cristina is a software engineer and tech entrepreneur, who co-founded one of Silicon Valley’s fastest growing companies, Talkdesk, a platform that allows anyone to quickly create a call centre online. Previously, Cristina has worked as a researcher at INESC-ID, a Portuguese non-profit institution conducting advanced research in electronics, energy, telecommunications and information technologies. Cristina is passionate about Artificial Intelligence and the impact of technology, and advises early-stage start-ups.

Clémentine Forissier
Editor in Chief at Contexte

Clémentine is a journalist who has gone from freelance reporting on the radio and in magazines to later becoming Chief Editor at EurActiv, France. She is now Chief Editor of Contexte, an online newspaper that focuses on French and European public policy which she co-founded in 2013. She is also Vice-President of Europresse, the association of French journalists who cover European affairs, and AJDE, an association for journalists who specifically report on energy issues. Educated in Paris and Brussels, Clémentine is a published author and was previously in charge of opening the Brussels office of the Robert Schuman Foundation. 

United Kingdom
Myriam François
International News Correspondent, TRT World

Myriam is an academic, broadcaster and writer specialising in issues related to Islam and the Middle East. She is a regular contributor to the Middle East Eye, the New Statesman and the Telegraph. In 2014, she broke a headline story on an exclusive 36-page document written by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al-Qaeda militant behind the 9/11 attacks. Since then, she presented two BBC documentaries, ‘The Muslim Pound’ (2016) and ‘A Deadly Warning: Srebrenica Revisited’ (2015) nominated for the Sandford St Martin religious programming award. Myriam is also a Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies at SOAS University, where she focuses on British-Muslim integration issues. She recently completed her doctorate at Oxford University on the subject of Islamic political movements in Morocco.

Markus Freiburg
Founder & Managing Director of FASE

Markus is the founder of the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE), a leading financial intermediary that helps social enterprises scale their social impact by helping them raise hybrid growth capital. FASE has built an open pipeline of investment-ready social enterprises and closed sixteen transactions leveraging around €6m in impact investments. Markus is also a member of the Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES), a consultative multi-stakeholder group on social business that examines the progress of measures foreseen by the European Commission. He has experience of working with many social enterprises in finding appropriate financing solutions and scaling-up the impact of proven business models. Markus worked for seven years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where one of his roles was providing pro-bono consulting for social entrepreneurs.

Alessandro Fusacchia
Strategic Advisor H-Farm

Alessandro is a former Advisor to the Italian Economic Development Minister on European Affairs, Innovation and Youth, and former Head of Office at the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. Previously he was an official at the Council of the European Union dealing with global economic governance (G20/IMF). He has worked for the Italian Prime Minister’s office in Rome as part of the G8 team, as well as for the Italian Ministry of International Trade. He teaches at the LUISS Guido Carlo School of Government in Rome and at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. He was until recently President of RENA, the Italian association of young professionals promoting innovation, merit, youth empowerment and a new generation of local public policies. He is also the author of two novels.

Mariya Gabriel
European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society

Mariya is a Bulgarian politician currently serving as the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. Previously, Mariya was also a Member of the European Parliament, active as both the Head of the Bulgarian European People’s Party (EPP) delegation and Vice-President of the EPP party, and involved in a wide range of parliamentary committees, including acting as EPP Group coordinator for the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality( FEMM), and as a Member of the Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI); Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE); Petitions (PETI); and the special committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering (CRIM). Recipient of several international awards, she is passionate about initiatives related to young people, and has established six European information centres in Bulgaria. 

Sara Garcia Ruiz
Engineer, S.A. de Electronica Submarina (SAES)

Sara is an engineer at S.A. de Electronica Submarina (SAES), a company specialised in submarine electronics and acoustics. Prior to this, she was a Member of the Murcian regional Parliament where she served as First Secretary of the Defense Committee as well as a Member of the Science and Innovation and Equality Committees. She has been a Member of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party since she was 16. She studied communications engineering and has worked in the defence policy sector. She stands for male-female parity in Spain’s politics and for the presence of members of parliament of all ages.

No results at the moment.
Selection process

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.