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 in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future.

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
Jan Goossens
Artistic Director, Festival de Marseille

Jan is Artistic Director of KVS, the Royal Flemish Theatre in Brussels, since 2001. He has established an ambitious artistic programme that embraces the intercultural and linguistic diversity of Brussels. He is the initiator of cultural exchange programmes between Belgium, the Congo and the Arab world, and is a Belgian Fellow of the Eisenhower Foundation. Jan has also written several books and articles on subjects such as culture, media and the future of Belgium and Europe.

Czech Republic
Jan Vesely
Founder and Director, EduFórum

Jan specialises in helping start-up entrepreneurs take their first steps. He is the Director of Lean Startup CZ, a Prague-based business that aims to assist new companies in achieving financial stability, efficiency and longevity. The initiative features an accelerator programme for non-profit and social businesses and a 10-city roadshow promoting entrepreneurship, networking and workshops. In addition, Jan owns Struct s.r.o., a business development consultancy that helps businesses to monitor, upgrade and exchange the services they use as they grow. Jan is also passionate about innovation in education which led him to found EduFórum, a network designed to promote action in this area. He has been Director of Edufórum since its creation in 2012.

United Kingdom
Jane Burston
Head of the Centre for Carbon Measurement, National Physical Laboratory

Jane has dedicated most her life to climate and environmental issues, serving first as a strategic consultant on low carbon policy to the Mayor of London and is now running a world-class climate science and low carbon technology centre at the UK’s National Measurement Institute. In 2008, she founded Carbon Retirement, an award-winning social enterprise working with the EU ETS. Her dedication to sustainability and entrepreneurial drive was rewarded with being named as one of the ‘Top 30 UK entrepreneurs under 30’ by Real Business in 2010, a 'Social Entrepreneur of the Year' by Square Mile in 2011 and one of the ‘Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons of the UK’ by the Chamber of Commerce International in 2015, among others.

Jasmina Cibic

Jasmina works across a range of media including photography, performance, installation and video. Most often characterised as a visual artist, her artwork is focused on the positioning and analysing of space vis-à-vis other societal categories. She is the author of numerous exhibitions which have been shown all over Europe, as well as the recipient of prestigious Slovenian, European and international awards, including the Bevilacqua la Masa (Venice 2002 and 2005), the Slovenian Trend Award for Outstanding Achievements in Visual Art (2011), and the Catlin Commission Award (London, 2011). She represented Slovenia at the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. She studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice before receiving an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London.

Javier Gonzalez Alvarez
International Director Digimarc

Javier is Founder and CEO of aquaMobile SL, a mobile value-added services provider based in Madrid. AquaMobile SL is one of the most successful digital watermarking solutions companies; its products are recognised throughout the field and used in all kinds of media. Aquamobile SL won several prestigious awards, such as the Top Global 100 RedHerring winner and the NETI Award. He has also worked in management roles for various start-ups, such as Alvento and Mobile 365 Inc. He is Co-founder of the tMA Foundation, which encourages innovative and entrepreneurial projects in conjunction with MIT. Javier is a graduate from the Madrid Polytechnic University and ESCP Europe.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert
Minister for Defence of The Netherlands

Jeanine is a Member of the Dutch House of Representatives since 2010 and a Member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. She previously worked at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement, KPMG, the City of Amsterdam and also served as a Member of the European Parliament. In February 2010, as rapporteur on the issue, Jeanine led the European Parliament vote that rejected an EU-US agreement which would have granted US authorities access to European citizens’ banking data without taking account the European legislation on data protection.

Jens Ole Bach Hansen
Counsellor Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Jens is Counsellor at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to his current role, He was posted at the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations in New York, in charge of Danish relations and strategic interventions with the UN Development System. Having worked and studied in the United States, France, Palestine, Israel, Denmark and Jordan, Jens Ole defines himself as “a dedicated internationalist and multi-lateralist”. Following 10 years of experience in international relations, he is now focused on the changing international architecture and the role of the United Nations in addressing global challenges. Jens Ole is a graduate in International affairs from the dual degree programme between Columbia University and Sciences Po, Paris and a BA in Public administration from Roskilde University.

João Rodrigo Pinho de Almeida
Member, National Parliament of Portugal

Joao is involved in the Parliamentary Committees of Budget, Finance and Public administration. Previously, Joao served as  Secretary of State of Internal Administration of the Portuguese government. Joao currently represents the CDS-PP political party  as spokesperson in the Parliament, having previously served as Secretary General and President of the People’s Part Youth division, of which he is still the Honorary President. Locally, he was member of the municipal assembly of Sao Joao da Madeira. With a sound legal background, Joao was a consultant at PROLEGAL – Moser & Lobo d’Avila and an attorney at Alves Mendes, Jardim Goncalves & Associates. He is also passionate about sports, being the Director and Chairman of the Board of the “os Belenenses” professional football team and sports club.

João Wengorovius Meneses
General Manager, StartUp Discoveries

Prior to taking on the position of General Manager for StartUp Discoveries, João held the role of Head of ‘GABIP Mouraria’ at the Lisbon City Hall, the department in charge of urban rehabilitation and social development of Mouraria, one of the most traditional and multicultural quarters of Lisbon. He also holds the ‘Management of Nonprofit Organisations’ teaching position at ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute, and in June 2011 started a social consulting firm called Big Society. Previously he managed the NGO TESE, and was a Financial Officer at Chapito, which is one of the oldest Portuguese NGOs working with vulnerable young people. He is also a columnist for Diario Economico and has co-authored a book on NGO management.

United Kingdom
Jon Worth
Former Consultant & Founding Partner, techPolitics LLP

Jon is a founding partner of techPolitics LLP, a London-based web campaigning and social media agency that has run online campaigns for well-known UK politicians such as Harriet Harman, Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone. He is best known in the UK for his role running the Atheist Bus Campaign, an online fundraising campaign that emblazoned the slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" on 800 buses across the UK in 2009. This action prompted follow up campaigns in ten further countries. He is one of the founders of, an aggregator of blogs about the European Union, and is a prolific writer on EU affairs on his own blog ( as well as on UK political blogs such as LabourList and Left Foot Forward. He is a visiting lecturer at Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, and the Graduate Institute of International Affairs, Geneva.

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