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
United Kingdom
Ben Hammersley
Internet Technologist, Journalist & Author

Ben is a British writer and technologist, specialising in the effects of the internet and the ubiquitous digital network on the worldʼs political, cultural and social spheres. He enjoys an international career as a speaker, explaining complex technological and sociological topics to lay audiences and as a high-level advisor on these matters to governments and business. He is currently a Robert Schuman fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, an Innovator in Residence at the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies at Goldsmiths, University of London, a non-resident fellow of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C., a member of the European Commission High Level Group on Media Freedom and contributing editor of the UK edition of WIRED magazine. He is the accredited inventor of the word “Podcast”, published in The Guardian (2004).

Oisin Hanrahan
Co-Founder of Handybook

Oisin became an entrepreneur at the age of 18, when he set up the Clearwater Group, a real estate development company in Budapest while a student at Trinity College, Dublin. Oisin founded Handybook in May 2012 with Umang Dua to address the difficulty of finding a reliable handyman that Oisin experienced in Budapest. Oisin also established MiCandidate, which became the leading source for online election information across Europe in 2009, and set up the Undergraduate Awards, which has become the world’s largest pan-discipline awards programme. Supported by Google, Microsoft and others, it is a global annual awards event hosted in Dublin with the award distributed each year by the President of Ireland. 

United Kingdom
Mehdi Hasan
Broadcaster, Journalist and Presenter at Al Jazeera International

Mehdi is an award-winning journalist and political commentator. He is the presenter of ‘The Café’, ‘Head to Head’ and ‘UpFront’ on Al Jazeera English. He was previously political director at Huffington Post UK. Mehdi was named as one of the 100 most influential Britons on Twitter and was included in the annual global list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. In 2013, his debate-winning speech in an Oxford Union debate on Islam and peace went viral online, winning more than two million views. He is also the author of two books: a biography of former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and an eBook on debt and the financial crisis.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert
Former 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.

United States
Sabrina Hersi Issa
Chief Executive Officer Be Bold Media, North-American Delegate

Sabrina is the CEO of Be Bold Media, a digital agency for global advocacy that notably produces a hackathon series to build and improve technology tools used for humanitarian relief and refugee services. She is the co-founder of End Famine, a campaign dedicated to developing sustainable solutions to hunger, food security and humanitarian assistance. Sabrina organises Rights x Tech, a gathering for technologists and activists, and runs Survivor Fund, a political fund dedicated to supporting the rights of survivors of sexualised violence. She currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, where she leads research on journalism ecosystems and how philanthropy can support efforts to build diverse, inclusive media ecosystems. In addition, she curates New/s Disruptors, a project working to re-frame the narrative of digital disruption in journalism to champion the experiences and contributions of diverse voices.

Daire Hickey
Managing Partner at 150 Bond & Co-Founder of the Web Summit

Daire is the Managing Partner at 150 Bond, a strategic advisory firm, and one of the co-founders of the Web Summit, Europe’s largest tech start-up event and the largest technology conference in the world. In this role, he has facilitated a number of tech conferences in the United States and Europe. Daire is also a former journalist, who has worked for the Irish broadcaster RTE and several Irish newspapers. Former journalist and columnist, Daire is an active angel investor and a member of several company advisory boards.

Czech Republic
Pavla Holcová
Founder of the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism

Pavla is the Founder and Director of the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism, where she has been involved in examining cases of Serbian and Macedonian organised criminals and revealing fraud in the fall of the Czech Investment and Post Bank (IPB), the biggest bankruptcy in the history of the Czech Republic. Before founding the centre, Pavla was head of Cuban Section in a humanitarian and human rights NGO. Her journalistic work has been merited with the Global Shining Light Award from the Global Investigative Journalism Network, as well as the European Union Award for Investigative Journalism.

Sami Hourani
Executive Director Leaders of Tomorrow, MENA Delegate

Sami Hourani is medical doctor and serial social entrepreneur. He is the founding director of the well-known educational platform Dr. Hourani is also the founder and the executive director of the regional organization Leaders of Tomorrow and the innovative social initiatives; Diwanieh, Mo7aka and the new and creative qualitative research methodology FADFED. He is a fellow at Ashoka, largest hub for social innovators world wide. He received King Abdullah II Demoqrati award in 2014 and EUROMED youth award in 2013. He was also elected as the Jordanian Role Model of 2011 and received the Jordanian title “Knight of Change” in 2008.

United Kingdom
Anne-Marie Imafidon
Co-Founder, Head Stemette & CEO of Stemettes

Anne-Marie co-founded and became the CEO of Stemettes in 2013. Through this social enterprise, she aims to inspire and promote the involvement of the next generation of women into scientific, technologic, engineering, and mathematics centred subjects (STEM) and careers. Within three years, Stemettes has attracted over 7000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe to their events. A child prodigy, Anne-Marie’s passion and success in the STEM scene started at an early age, with passing two GCSEs at the age of ten, and being the youngest girl ever to pass A-Level Computing. In recognition of her influence and achievements, Anne-Marie was awarded an MBE in 2017.

Klen Jäärats
Director for EU Affairs Office of the Prime Minister of Estonia

As Director of the EU Secretariat in the Estonian government, Klen coordinates and develops all EU policy and acts as the chief European affairs adviser to the Prime Minister. A career civil servant, Klen started out in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, rising quickly to the position of Head of the Refugees Department. In this capacity, he dealt with a variety of NGOs and international organisations including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He later moved to Brussels where he spent six years working at the Estonian Permanent Representation to the EU during which time he dealt with many issues related to the preparation, ratification and implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon.

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.