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 in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future.
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.
Fatima is a professional field hockey player. She has played for the Dutch national team in international tournaments and for several teams such as Tempo ’34, HGC and HC Rotterdam in Dutch national competitions. She was a member of the Dutch national team that won the 2006 Women’s Hockey World Cup and the 2007 Hockey Champions Trophy. After a bronze medal in Sydney in 2000 and a silver medal in Athens in 2004, Fatima won a gold medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing. In 2006, she was named Rotterdam Sportswoman of the Year. In addition to field hockey, she presented TV programmes on local and national networks.
Florian is Head of the corporate governance and internal policies division at the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), where he is responsible for the preparation of decisions and meetings of the Board of Governors (eurozone finance ministers), Board of Directors and Board of Auditors. He has worked in economic and financial affairs in the areas of central banking and monetary policy in various capacities including at the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Central Bank (ECB). He has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, as well as a Master’s in Advanced European Studies from the University of Vienna.
Franck is a Member of the French National Assembly, representing the Seine-et-Marne department as a Member of the UMP Party. He is Mayor of the city of Coulommiers since 2008, where he was also a City Councillor at the age of 21. He is interested in economic development and new technologies, having become one of the main French legislators dealing with the subject of Internet regulation and protection of creative rights. Franck is also a successful businessman, owning several Peugeot dealerships.
Frédéric is the Founder and CEO of BlaBlaCar, the leading European ridesharing community that connects drivers with empty seats and people travelling the same way, so they can share the cost. Today, with more than 20 million members worldwide and several million people transported per month, BlaBlaCar is making road travel social, money-saving and more sustainable. Frédéric holds an MBA from INSEAD, a Masters of Science in Computer Science from Stanford and a Masters of Physics from ENS Ulm (Normale Sup). Prior to founding BlaBlaCar, he worked for 3 years as a scientific researcher at NASA (USA), and NTT (Japan). Frédéric is a regular speaker at international conferences and in the media (CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC) on the theme of sustainable development, entrepreneurship, global marketplaces and building trust in online communities. He is also an accomplished classical pianist.
Goran holds a degree from the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, where he specialised in film and television directing. He has directed several short films and co-wrote a screenplay with Marko Šantić for the film Good Luck Nedim, which was nominated for a European Film Academy Award in 2006. In 2010, he directed his first feature film Piran/Pirano. Čefurji raus! (“Southern Scum Go Home!”, 2008) is his bestselling debut novel for which he received the Prešeren Fund Award and the Kresnik Award for best novel of the year. His second novel Jugoslavija, moja dežela (“Yugoslavia, My Country”) was published in 2012 and achieved immediate success among Slovenian readers. Goran is also a weekly columnist for one of country’s biggest newspapers, Dnevnik, and is currently working on his new film based on his debut novel.
Hala Bugaighis is a lawyer and co-founder of Jusoor, a non-governmental organisation committed to independent policy research and human development projects for women with focus on the economic and social empowerment. As a lawyer with 15 years of experience, Hala focuses on commercial, banking, civil and investment laws, and has a sound understanding of law practice in an international context. Through her private companies, Hala has worked as a consultant to many international companies as well as Libyan private and public entities, focusing on development and capacity building. In 2015, Hala was nominated a UN Women Champion for Women Economic Empowerment – an initiative that aims to improve women’s economic standing and potential around the world.
Hanke is a Dutch politician, former military officer and hockey player. Immediately after graduating from university, Hanke joined the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations as a Senior Policy Officer. She remained in this position for four years before attending the Dutch Royal Military Academy (KMA) where she undertook officer training, and specialised as an artillery commander. Assigned as a Tank Platoon Commander in 2007, Hanke served in Afghanistan and by 2009 was Acting Field Officer assisting the Director of Operations, Land Forces Commando Staff. In 2010, Hanke was elected to the Dutch House of Representatives where she currently serves as party spokesperson on health and defence issues for the Christian Democratic Appeal party, and also focuses on local government, medical law, psychiatry and sports. Hanke is a keen hockey player and was on the team that won the Rabobank Premier Division national indoor hockey championship in 2005.
Ignacio is a journalist, political analyst and Founder and Director of www.eldiario.es, an online media political analysis site. Previously Ignacio founded and managed the well-known newspaper Publico. He also manages www.escolar.net, the most popular and widely read political blog in Spain, which was named best political and journalist blog of the year in 2008 and 2009. Ignacio is also the founder of Bitban, a technology and design consulting company for Internet media communication, working with clients all over the world. In 2009 he was awarded the José Manuel Porquet Journalism Prize, the Mujeres Progresistas Prize for declining to publish prostitution ads in Publico and the Nicolas Salmeron for Human Rights Prize.
Ilhan Omar is the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives for the 60B district. She is the first Somali American Muslim legislator elected to office in the United States. She is the Assistant Minority Leader, with assignments to three house committees; Civic Law and Data Practices Policy; Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance; and State Government Finance. In addition to serving in the legislature, Omar is the Director of Policy Initiatives at Women Organizing Women, where she empowers East African women to take civic leadership roles in their community. Born in Somalia, Omar and her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States in 1990s.
Imen Ben Mohamed is a Tunisian politician representing the new face of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda (“Renaissance” in Arabic) in both the Maghreb Shura Council and the Assembly of the People’s Representatives where she holds a seat in the Rights, Freedom, and Foreign Affairs Committee. Her education in Italy, where her family lived in exile, and strong commitment to youth and family policies have made her a rising political star in a country still struggling to define itself in the increasingly turbulent landscape of the MENA region. Ben Mohamed is a strong supporter of dialogue between cultures and religions.