European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme - Lisbon seminar

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European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme - Lisbon seminar

Summary

A scientist pushing the boundaries of regenerative medicine; a chef blending tradition, innovation and a commitment to sustainability; lawmakers intent on injecting new life into politics; trailblazing entrepreneurs; fearless campaigners; artists at the top of their game – these were just some of the participants in the European Young Leaders seminar held on 16-18 March in Lisbon and the Atlantic resort of Cascais.

The first gathering of the Class of 2017 was the latest event in the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme. Each year the programme, launched in 2011 by Friends of Europe, brings together 40 of Europe’s brightest minds aged 40 and under to debate challenges facing the continent and search for solutions.

Under the banner of ‘Leadership in an increasingly unpredictable world’, the Lisbon meeting produced three days of intense interaction between young people of diverse backgrounds and experience. They assessed the need to re-connect with citizens as the Brexit vote and support for populists ring alarm bells over the future of European integration.

Discussions ranged from climate change to transatlantic relations in the Trump era, from education as the keystone for Europe’s future to ways to re-think European integration, new ideas on migration, social inequality and the importance of keeping Europe at the forefront of the digital economy.

A series of tangible proposals aimed at responding to some of Europe’s most pressing problems emerged from the group’s brainstorming sessions. They included new procedures to process asylum applications in transit countries to facilitate legal routes into Europe and reduce the risk of refugees taking hazardous sea journeys at the mercy of traffickers; developing connections between Europe’s creative economic hubs; establishing cross-border networks for teachers to share best practices in Europe; and encouraging silo-breaking contacts between climate scientists and wider society.

The 2017 Class of European Young Leaders attending the seminar was joined in Portugal by alumni from previous years and high-level speakers, including European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas, former Estonian prime minister Taavi Rõivas and former US ambassador to the EU Anthony L. Gardner. Also joining the group as a special guest was Belgian music, video and fashion artist Paul Van Haver, known around the world by his stage name Stromae.

The President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, hosted a dinner for the group in the Cascais Citadel Palace and took questions on topics ranging from Brexit to generational politics and Portugal’s relations with its former African colonies.

European Young Leaders (EYL40) - Lisbon
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About

About

The European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme led 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 organised under the patronage of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.

The European Young Leaders represent a promising European leadership from all over the continent and with a wide variety of backgrounds including politics, business, civil society, academia, arts, science and the media. The 2017 class of European Young Leaders was selected by members of Friends of Europe’s Board of Trustees, which includes 11 former Prime Ministers.

The 2017 class of European Young Leaders will meet for the first time from 16 to 18 March 2017 in Lisbon. This seminar will give them an opportunity to meet in an informal setting and discuss key European challenges just a week before Europe marks the 60th anniversary of the EU’s founding treaty. It will focus on European leadership in a disruptive and fast-changing world marked by rising populism and extremist movements and will determine how Europe can better communicate its successes, deliver tangible results, improve how it works and re-connect with people.

IMAGE CREDIT: Bigstock – SeanPavonePhoto

Schedule

Schedule

2017 EYL class welcome lunch Expand 2017 EYL class welcome lunch

A moment to welcome the 2017 class of European Young Leaders to their first seminar and an opportunity for them to meet with their peers.

GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER Expand GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER

Working in pairs in advance to share your story. In plenary introduce for 60 seconds your partner and tell their story to the wider group.

A NEW VISION FOR EUROPE: The trajectory of leadership over the years Expand A NEW VISION FOR EUROPE: The trajectory of leadership over the years

The geopolitical landscape is shifting around us. 60 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, Europe’s political certainties are being questioned by the migration crisis, Brexit, Trumpism in the United States and populism in Europe. It is now time for Europe to use its current challenges to change and focus on better communicating its successes, delivering tangible results, educating people about its core values and improving how it works. How can Europe go back to the fundamental values at the core of its project? How can it build on its economic weight to help reshape the global agenda? How can it display resilience in its words and actions?

A conversation with

Carlos Moedas

Member of the Board of Trustees at the Gulbenkian Foundation, former EU Commissioner and former Portuguese Under Secretary of State

Taavi Rõivas

Senior Fellow for Connected Europe, Former Prime Minister of Estonia (2014-2016) and Chairman of Auve Tech

Coffee break
THROUGH THICK AND THIN: What lessons can we learn from Portugal’s leadership? Expand THROUGH THICK AND THIN: What lessons can we learn from Portugal’s leadership?

Portugal has stayed the course despite significant challenges in recent years. The country didn’t go through the 2008 economic crisis unscathed. But after years of austerity policies, Portugal is restoring its economy health, avoiding populism, and experiencing shared leadership between a centre-right President and a centre-left Prime Minister. During this plenary session, EYLs will have the opportunity to discuss the politics of austerity, the fight against populism and this unusual political ‘cohabitation’ with representatives of different political parties. They will determine whether there are lessons there for the rest of Europe.

Introductory remarks by:

Teresa Anjinho

CDS-PP Member and Secretary of State for Justice (2015)

Miguel Morgado

Vice President of the PSD Group in the Portuguese Parliament

João Torres

Vice President of the PS Group in the Portuguese Parliament

Moderated by

Ricardo Baptista Leite

Founder and President of UNITE, Member of the Portuguese National Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Time off
Dinner in Lisbon with Fado music
Continue to DAY 2
IS IT TIME TO RETHINK DEMOCRACY? Expand IS IT TIME TO RETHINK DEMOCRACY?

Recent elections and referendums have shaken the liberal democratic order. The old rules no longer seem to apply, with social media contributing to the development of ‘post-truth’ politics in which perceptions seem to count for more than facts. At the same time extremist forces who threaten democracy are using democratic means to access power. How can European democracies and the EU institutions face up to these challenges? What measures should be taken to curb the rise of extremist and populist tendencies? Is it time for a radical rethink of how we perceive ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’?

Introductory remarks by:

Luis Morago

Campaigns Director at Avaaz

Tiberiu Pfiszter

Romanian anti-corruption activist

Reactions by:

Inés Arrimadas García

Leader of the Citizens Party in the Spanish Parliament and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica

Parliamentary Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Coffee break
PARALLEL SESSIONS Expand PARALLEL SESSIONS

PARALLEL SESSION I – BREXIT: How can we restart the European engine?

Britain’s referendum vote to leave the EU has delivered a profound shock to the continent. The looming departure of one of the EU’s strongest diplomatic, economic and military powers is a serious blow for the European project. How can Europe fight against general apathy and move forward? How can we bring back optimism and trust in our common destiny?

Introductory remarks by:

Denis MacShane

British Minister of State for Europe (2002-2005)

Tim Oliver

Dahrendorf Fellow at the London School of Economics

Moderated by:

Owen Jones

Author, Columnist, Commentator & Political Activist for the Guardian and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

PARALLEL SESSION II – UNITED STATES: The end of a long-lasting alliance?

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is a game-changer for transatlantic relations. The triumph of ‘America first’ is likely to see the US retreat from the world and question former alliances. It also gives Europe a unique opportunity to play a bigger role in international relations. How can Europe fill the vacuum? Can it be the new beacon of hope?

An interview of

Anthony L. Gardner

Former US Ambassador to the European Union and Senior Adviser at the Brunswick Group and Sidley & Austin

by

Mehdi Hasan

Journalist, Broadcaster and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Lunch
IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE Expand IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE

Spend time organising yourselves, thinking through the issues and how you intend to discuss the topic and come to an agreement. Ensure you have a set of recommendations to share with the wider group; present your dilemma and areas of disagreement; also consider and take account of what you think good leadership is about.

WORKING GROUP I – MIGRATION

Migration is an issue that continues to be high on Europe’s agenda. It is often combined with the refugee crisis, perceptions of social welfare abuse and terrorism. But can we educate people and change the narrative to the positive impact – and the necessity – of migration in an ageing and economically stagnant Europe? And what can the EU do in terms of job creation and social integration to ensure that it delivers for its citizens and residents, old and new?

Scene setter:

Philippe Legrain

Founder of the Open Political Economy Network (OPEN) and Author of ‘Immigrants: Your country needs them’

Chair:

Michael Printzos

Director of Programming at the Hellenic Initiative and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Rapporteur:

Muna Duzdar

Member of the National Council for the Social Democratic Party & Spokesperson for Eenergy and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

WORKING GROUP II – CLIMATE AND ENERGY

COP21 and COP22 were successful steps towards tackling climate change, but there is still a long way to go before reaching global emissions targets. New technologies could ease the shift to cleaner energy through digitalisation, low-carbon mobility and smarter grids. Europe spearheads the green transition, but it relies heavily on only a few suppliers, and lacks adequate interconnections. How can Europe lead the move to a competitive low-carbon economy while boosting energy security?

Scene setter:

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele

Professor of Climatology and Environmental Sciences at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and Vice Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2008-2015)

Chair:

Jane Burston

Managing Director of the Clean Air Fund and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Rapporteur:

Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

WORKING GROUP III – EDUCATION

The ability to count, read and write are key elements of education, but many thousands of European school-leavers lack these basic skills. Meanwhile the range of skills needed by young people is enlarging, with the digital revolution transforming how we learn and how we work. How can Europe prepare its education infrastructure to deal with the challenges of the 21st century? Is civic education the silver bullet to fight populism?

Scene setter:

Montserrat Gomendio

Deputy Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Spanish Secretary of State for Education, Professional Training and Universities (2012-2015)

Chair:

Kamilla Sultanova

Owner, ConnectUz and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Rapporteur:

Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin

Lecturer at the University College Dublin School of Mathematics and Statistics and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

WORKING GROUP IV – DIGITAL ECONOMY

While some innovative US start-ups such as Airbnb and Uber have already become big global players, digital as a driver for growth remains largely a story of untapped potential on this side of the Atlantic. Europe is struggling to keep pace with the digital transition and is failing to fulfil its digital promise. How can Europe successfully transform its economy? How can it fully benefit from digital market initiatives and stop the brain drain? How can it create a culture of innovation?

Scene setter:

Fabio Pianesi

Research Director at EIT Digital

Chair:

Michal Štencl

Founder & CEO of Sygic and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Rapporteur:

Kaja Kallas

Prime Minister of Estonia and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

KNOWLEDGE SHARING Expand KNOWLEDGE SHARING

An opportunity for EYLs to share the recommendations that came out of the working groups in plenary.

Rapporteurs:

Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Muna Duzdar

Member of the National Council for the Social Democratic Party & Spokesperson for Eenergy and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Kaja Kallas

Prime Minister of Estonia and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin

Lecturer at the University College Dublin School of Mathematics and Statistics and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Coffee break
PARALLEL STUDY VISITS: New ideas for Europe Expand PARALLEL STUDY VISITS: New ideas for Europe

Two success stories from the Lisbon region will open their doors to European Young Leaders for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes visit to showcase their achievements, share good practices and inspire.

A. Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown – Championing research in health

The Champalimaud Foundation is a private biomedical research foundation that aims to develop programmes of advanced biomedical research and provide excellent clinical care.

B. DNA Cascais – Promoting innovation through entrepreneurship

DNA Cascais is a business incubator whose mission is to foster entrepreneurship in Cascais and in the Lisbon region through the development and promotion of social and young entrepreneurship.

Time off
Dinner in Cascais in the presence of the President of Portugal, H.E. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Continue to DAY 3
Welcoming remarks by Luís Jerónimo from the Human Development Programme of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
BEHIND THE SCENES OVER BREAKFAST: Connecting with EYLs and alumni Expand BEHIND THE SCENES OVER BREAKFAST: Connecting with EYLs and alumni

Over breakfast, short conversations with EYL40 alumni on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this resourceful network.

10.05 – 10.30

1 – Reaching biotechnology holy grails: Creating organs in labs

Eleni Antoniadou

Co-Founder of Transplants without Donors

2 – Libya: Why it matters and why it has given me too many grey hairs

Mary Fitzgerald

Journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

3 – Europe’s cultural heritage: Are we investing enough?

Eduardo Portal Martin

Founding Member and CEO of Passion for Conducting Academy and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

4 – A risk-averse continent: Challenges or opportunities for startups in Europe?

Dimitris Tsigos

Founder and CEO at Starttech Ventures and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

10.30 – 11.00

1 – How I meet the challenge of sustainability in my 3-star restaurant

Eneko Atxa

Chef at three-Michelin-starred restaurant Azurmendi and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

2 – What does it mean to be a Muslim woman in Europe today?

Myriam François

International News Correspondent, TRT World and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

3 – AI and robots: What’s in it for humans?

Jakob Haesler

Managing Director at Foxdixneuf , 2013 European Young Leader

4 – How to make EU citizens enthusiastic about Europe again?

Juhan Lepassaar

Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Coffee break
A BLUE PRINT FOR 21ST CENTURY LEADERSHIP Expand A BLUE PRINT FOR 21ST CENTURY LEADERSHIP

Three days after a key election in the Netherlands, it is a good time to reflect on the essentials for leadership in the 21st century. Based on what you have learned in the previous sessions, think about how better models of leadership might be promoted, rated and showcased, using social media or other routes. How can leaders combat anti-democratic and populist movements that are gaining ground across Europe? What can be done to protect the democratic order and stem the extremist tide that is rising in France, Germany and Italy ahead of national elections?

Lunch and end of seminar
Speakers

Speakers

Photo of Eleni Antoniadou
Eleni Antoniadou

Co-Founder of Transplants without Donors

Show more information on Eleni Antoniadou

Eleni has been working on artificial organ technology and regenerative medicine in hospitals across the world. After graduating in biomedicine, she participated in the first successful artificial trachea transplant operation on a late-stage cancer patient. She is also the co-founder of the London-based start-up Transplants without Donors, which aims to develop tissue-engineered organs that are transplanted into sick patients. Eleni also trained NASA astronauts in biomedical experimentation for the International Space Station (ISS). 

Photo of Inés Arrimadas García
Inés Arrimadas García

Leader of the Citizens Party in the Spanish Parliament and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Inés Arrimadas García

Inés Arrimadas García serves as a Member of the Spanish parliament and is the Leader and Spokesperson of the Citizens (“Ciudadanos”) party. As a former member of the Parliament of Catalonia, Inés sat on the Committee of Business and Employment, focusing on socio-economic issues including unemployment and inequality, and went on to become the leader of the opposition. Under her leadership, the Citizens party became a major contender and won a majority in the Catalonian parliament. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was named among the Young European of the Year category by the Liberal Democrat Local and Regional Politicians (LeaDeR) Awards. Inés started her career in the private sector, working for a consulting firm, which specialised in EU-funded project management related to territorial development and service management. She was also previously responsible for quality and administration management in a group of companies in the petrochemical sector.

Photo of Eneko Atxa
Eneko Atxa

Chef at three-Michelin-starred restaurant Azurmendi and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Eneko Atxa

Eneko is a leader in international cuisine. In 2007, he opened his now-renowned restaurant Azurmendi in the Basque country. Within five years, the restaurant – located in the beautiful town of Larrabetzu – had been awarded three Michelin stars. Azurmendi was named Most Sustainable Restaurant in the World by the World’s 50 Best in 2014 and as number two on Elite Traveler’s 2016 list of the best restaurants in the world. Eneko has a creative mind, skilled hands and a work ethic based on care, precision and speed. His intense cuisine is deeply rooted in the local Basque identity. He has been named Champion Young Chef in Spain and Best Chef of the Year by the prestigious French gourmet club Fourchettes.

Photo of Ricardo Baptista Leite
Ricardo Baptista Leite

Founder and President of UNITE, Member of the Portuguese National Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Ricardo Baptista Leite

Ricardo is best known as a Member of the Portuguese Parliament where he currently serves as a member of the committee on health. He also founded the UNITE global network of parliamentarians committed to achieving political impact towards ending infectious diseases as a global health threat. He is a medical doctor with specific training in infectious diseases, having studied at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School, and has an active role on a number of scientific and advisory boards of health-related foundations and organisations – including his role as Head of Public Health at the Catholic University of Portugal.

Photo of Kirsten Brosbøl
Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Kirsten Brosbøl

Kirsten is the CEO and Founder of 2030beyond, a do-tank for the 2030 Agenda which works to accelerate action on the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, she founded the Parliamentarians for the Global Goals initiative, a global network of parliamentarians committed to the 2030 Agenda. Kirsten formerly served as the Danish minister of environment and member of the Danish parliament, during which time she founded and chaired the All-Party Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a German Marshall Fellow and was an Obama Foundation Scholar at Columbia University in New York City.

Photo of Jane Burston
Jane Burston

Managing Director of the Clean Air Fund and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Jane Burston

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.

Photo of Geert Cami
Geert Cami

Co-Founder and Secretary-General

Show more information on Geert Cami

Geert Cami co-founded Friends of Europe, the action-oriented think tank, in 1999. As Secretary General, Geert mainly deals with the strategic development of Friends of Europe, he coordinates the work of the high-level Boards involved in the governance of the organisation and chairs the Strategic Leadership meetings. He oversees both the financial health and the successful running of the organisation and its flagship initiatives, and focuses on the expansion and the activation of Friends of Europe’s vast network of trustees, European young leaders and other senior political, corporate, media and societal contacts and partners throughout the world.
He initiated and founded TownHall Europe in 2019 (the Davignon Centre for New Leadership) next to the European Parliament in Brussels.

Geert also headed the European conference organising, press relations and publishing company Forum Europe for more than ten years, and managed the revival of one of Belgium’s finest architectural examples of Art Nouveau, after creating La Maison de l’Europe in the prestigious 100 year-old Bibliothèque Solvay.

At the outset of his career, Geert worked for a few years in ECHO at the European Commission, as deputy in the newly set-up Information and communications unit. His focus was mainly on raising the profile of the EU’s humanitarian efforts throughout the world, through publications and media initiatives such as exhibitions, television debates or Humanitarian Days in Member States.

He also worked for 2 music programmes at Belgian public Radio 1, and very briefly as a teacher and TV journalist.

Photo of Muna Duzdar
Muna Duzdar

Member of the National Council for the Social Democratic Party & Spokesperson for Eenergy and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Muna Duzdar

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.

Mary Fitzgerald
Mary Fitzgerald

Journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Mary Fitzgerald

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.

Photo of Myriam François
Myriam François

International News Correspondent, TRT World and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Myriam François

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.

Photo of Montserrat Gomendio
Montserrat Gomendio

Deputy Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Spanish Secretary of State for Education, Professional Training and Universities (2012-2015)

Show more information on Montserrat Gomendio

A biologist by training, Montserrat Gomendio played an active role in the education reform undertaken by the Spanish government as Secretary of State for Education, Vocational Training and Universities from 2012 to 2015. In her current position at the OECD, she focuses on developing strategic orientations in the area of education and skills, aiming to build effective and efficient educational institutions and help countries strengthen employability, inclusiveness and social participation. Montserrat is also a former Vice President of the Spanish Research Council, the third largest public institution dedicated to research in Europe.

Photo of Mehdi Hasan
Mehdi Hasan

Journalist, Broadcaster and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Mehdi Hasan

An award-winning journalist and political commentator, Mehdi is the host of The Mehdi Hasan Show on Peacock and MSNBC, and the presenter of the Head to Head, The Café and UpFront shows on Al Jazeera English. Prior to this, he hosted The Intercept’s Deconstructed podcast and was the political editor at Huffington Post UK. At the start of his career, Mehdi worked as a researcher and producer for several programmes on London Weekend Television (LWT), BBC One, Sky and Channel 4. He has been named among the 100 most influential Britons on Twitter and was included in the annual global list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. Mehdi is also the recipient of the British Muslim Award’s Services to Media award. In addition to having authored a book on debt and the 2008 financial crisis, Mehdi is the co-author of a biography of the former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

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Jakob Haesler

Managing Director at Foxdixneuf , 2013 European Young Leader

Show more information on Jakob Haesler

Prior to founding Project Alloy, Jakob was the CEO and Co-Founder of Tinyclues SAS, a Paris-based software startup with the objective of industrialising datamining on Big Data with the help of advanced machine learning algorithms in a Cloud Computing environment. Previously he was a partner and consultant at McKinsey & Company in Germany and France where he worked on topics ranging from Banking to Public Sector Reform to Global Public Health issues, notably the creation and distribution of child HIV treatments. Prior to McKinsey he briefly worked at the World Bank. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science from the University of St. Gallen. Jakob is also a founding partner of the “Cercle du Leadership”.

Photo of Owen Jones
Owen Jones

Author, Columnist, Commentator & Political Activist for the Guardian and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Owen Jones

Owen is an author, commentator and political activist. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian, having previously written for the Independent. He has made several television appearances on the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky News as well as on ITV’s Daybreak and BBC One’s ‘Question Time’. His work also appeared in several publications, including the Sunday Mirror and Le Monde diplomatique. In 2011, Owen published his first book, ‘Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class’, which received favourable critical reviews, including from the New York Times. He was named one of the top 50 Britons of the year by the Independent on Sunday in 2011 and was awarded the Young Writer of the Year prize at the Political Book Award in 2013.

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Kaja Kallas

Prime Minister of Estonia and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Kaja Kallas

As of January 2021, Kaja Kallas is Estonia’s first female Prime Minister. A competition lawyer by profession, Kaja was elected Member of the Estonian Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Economic Affairs in 2011. After being elected to the European Parliament in 2014, she became a prominent proponent of innovation and frequently emphasised that regulations should not hinder the technological revolution. She authored five reports in the European Parliament, including of an own-initiative report on the Digital Single Market. Kaja left the European sphere in 2018 to become leader of Estonia’s Liberal Reform Party.

Photo of Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica

Parliamentary Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica

Zanda is a Latvian politician and serves as the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. Her role is to ensure cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Latvian Parliament and the European Parliament. She also represents the Latvian government at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings of development and trade ministers. Zanda also currently chairs the Consultative Board for Development Cooperation Policy of Latvia and sits on the board of European Movement – Latvia, a non-profit organisation. She previously served as a member of the Latvian parliament and chaired the Committee on European Affairs Committee and the Innovation and Research Subcommittee during her mandate. Zanda started her professional career at Jurmala’s city council and then went on to work at the Strategic Analysis Commission of the President of Latvia, where she served as an advisor to the president.

Photo of Philippe Legrain
Philippe Legrain

Founder of the Open Political Economy Network (OPEN) and Author of ‘Immigrants: Your country needs them’

Show more information on Philippe Legrain

Philippe Legrain has established a reputation as a key commentator and forward-thinker on European policies, globalisation, international economics and migration. He is a critically acclaimed author on migration and has recently published a report on the economic benefits that refugees can bring to society through his co-founded think tank, the Open Political Economy Network (OPEN). Legrain has also previously served as an adviser to former EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Photo of Anthony L. Gardner
Anthony L. Gardner

Former US Ambassador to the European Union and Senior Adviser at the Brunswick Group and Sidley & Austin

Show more information on Anthony L. Gardner

Anthony served as US Ambassador to the EU from 2014 to 2017, during which time he played a key role in negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP), the EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement and the Umbrella Agreement facilitating the transatlantic transfer of data between law enforcement authorities. Prior to this position, he was managing director of a London-based equity firm and served in senior roles at the Bank of America, GE Capital and GE International. He also served as director for European Affairs on the US National Security Council, where he was responsible for US relations with the EU.

Photo of Juhan Lepassaar
Juhan Lepassaar

Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Juhan Lepassaar

Juhan currently serves as the Executive Director of ENISA, the EU agency for cybersecurity. He has an extensive background working with and within the European Union, having previously worked for the European Commission for six years in various roles, including as the head of cabinet of former vice-president Andrus Ansip. In this capacity, he coordinated preparations and negotiations for the Cybersecurity Act. He has also served as a member of cabinet for former vice-president Siim Kallas. Juhan started his career in EU affairs at the Estonian Government Office, where he led the national EU coordination system as the director for five years and also served as an EU advisor to the prime minister. Notably, Juhan conducted the high-level negotiations for the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and participated in the EU’s response to the international financial crisis and subsequent reform of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

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Denis MacShane

British Minister of State for Europe (2002-2005)

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As a former Minister of State for Europe and a delegate to the Council of Europe and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Denis MacShane was at the centre of the UK’s relationship with the EU, gaining expert knowledge and insight into their institutional and political dynamics. He has written and published multiple books on the EU-UK relations, with his most recent piece of work, ‘Brexit: How Britain left Europe’, providing an expert account on the political and social climate that led to Brexit.

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Luis Morago

Campaigns Director at Avaaz

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A dedicated and experienced human rights campaigner, Luis Morago has worked as Head of Oxfam’s Brussels office, participating in the organisation’s advocacy initiatives at the European Institutions. He is now Campaigns Director for Avaaz, the world’s largest online platform with over 44 million members dedicated to promoting global activism on issues such as climate change, conflict, corruption, human rights and poverty. Based in Madrid, he is currently engaged in developing Avaaz’s presence in Spain, which already includes more than 300,000 members.

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Miguel Morgado

Vice President of the PSD Group in the Portuguese Parliament

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Miguel Morgado is Director for the Adriatic Sea Region at the European Investment Bank (EIB) since January 2016. As such, he is in charge of the EIB’s operations in the Western Balkans. The EIB is the leading international lender in the region, having financed projects totalling €6.4bn in the last decade and having played a key role in the reconstruction of the region. Morgado previously served as Head of the Portuguese lending division and as Director of the Operations Support Department.

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Tiberiu Pfiszter

Romanian anti-corruption activist

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A software developer, Tiberiu Pfiszter had never before been politically active until early 2017 when the newly-elected Romanian government submitted an emergency decree decriminalising a series of corruption offences in the country. In response, he organised a Facebook event to mobilise people in his hometown to contest the bill. In a few days, Tiberiu became the leader of the largest protest in Romania since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989. The demonstration that he triggered brought 30.000 people on to the streets of Timisoara and eventually led the government to repeal the decree.

Taavi Rõivas
Taavi Rõivas

Senior Fellow for Connected Europe, Former Prime Minister of Estonia (2014-2016) and Chairman of Auve Tech

Show more information on Taavi Rõivas

Taavi Rõivas has a long history of political service and notably served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia from 2014 to 2016. Prior to this he held other roles, including as Minister of Social Affairs and as member of the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia). As a Parliamentarian, he worked as Deputy Chairman of the Parliament, chaired the European Union Affairs Committee and Finance Committee, and from 2014 to 2017 was the leader of the Reform Party. Rõivas has also worked as a corporate customer account manager at an IT company, and as an advisor to several ministers, including: Märt Rask, Minister of Justice; Paul-Eerik Rummo, Minister of Population; and to Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, as well as the elder of the Haabersti city district of Tallinn.

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Tim Oliver

Dahrendorf Fellow at the London School of Economics

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Tim Oliver is a distinguished academic and policy expert on UK foreign and security policies, particularly regarding the implications of Brexit on Europe, on which he has written extensively. He is a go-to expert for news organisations such as Newsweek and journals such as the International Spectator, in which he recently published ‘Fifty Shades of Brexit’. Oliver has also gained key political insights working in the European Parliament and the House of Lords, helping to inform his views on British and EU politics.

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Fabio Pianesi

Research Director at EIT Digital

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Fabio Pianesi has more than 20 years of experience as a leader and researcher in the ICT sector and as a professor at various universities. Throughout his career, he has focused on topics such as Natural Language Processing, Independent Living and Human Behaviour Analysis. Pianesi is Research Director at EIT Digital, a leading European digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organisation driving Europe’s digital transformation. He is in charge of developing research strategies for EIT Digital’s ICT lab programs and advancing relationships with relevant bodies of the EU and national governments.

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Eduardo Portal Martin

Founding Member and CEO of Passion for Conducting Academy and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Eduardo is a conductor and violinist, who founded the Conducting Academy, an online academy to share valuable information with those passionate about conducting. Having made his debut and conducted over twenty performances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall and throughout England, Eduardo has been invited to conduct orchestras across Europe and the Americas, including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Madrid and Valencia Symphony Orchestras and Sao Paulo Estate Symphony Orchestra, among others. Widely acclaimed by musical critics and particularly committed to contemporary repertoire, Eduardo also founded and serves as the Music Director of Antares Ensemble in Spain, which focuses on the performance of new music and studies its links with historical and rarely-performed masterpieces.

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Michael Printzos

Director of Programming at the Hellenic Initiative and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Michael has over 15 years of experience in the commercialisation of R&D results, innovation consultation and non-profit management, having worked for several companies and organisations across the globe and participated as a trainer and speaker at conferences on philanthropy and the concept of giving. He currently serves as the Director of Programming at The Hellenic Initiative, a global, non-profit and secular institution which aims to mobilise support and investment for sustainable economic renewal in Greece. He has overseen the Hellenic Initiative’s philanthropic work since the institution’s founding, having managed over $16.5mn in support of the future of Greece. Michael is also the co-owner of Green Systems, an engineering procurement and construction company in Athens, and Brainomix, a start-up company that develops medical imaging software to assess the eligibility of acute stroke patients for life saving treatment. He serves as a committee member of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, dedicated to achieving Greek competitiveness through properly informing and adequately motivating business employees.

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Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin

Lecturer at the University College Dublin School of Mathematics and Statistics and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Over the past ten years, Aoibhinn has promoted mathematics and science with a particular focus on encouraging more girls to study these subjects. She lectures at University College Dublin as part of a programme that addresses the growing need for qualified mathematics and science teachers in post-primary schools. In 2011, she was awarded the prestigious Ussher Fellowship from Trinity College Dublin for her doctoral thesis on mathematics teacher learning. Named as one of the Top 50 Women in Science in Ireland by Silicon Republic, she is renowned for her role as a science communicator and for promoting STEM subjects in Ireland through various media outlets, including radio and TV. In 2005, she won the Rose of Tralee contest, an international festival celebrated by Irish communities all over the world.

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Kamilla Sultanova

Owner, ConnectUz and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kamilla is a bridge-builder and a solopreneur based in Helsinki. She has had a successful sales career in Scandinavian shipping companies including Maersk Line, where she was in charge of a global sales strategy execution in more than 20 markets spanning Eastern Europe, Nordics and Middle East. A gifted adviser and passionate advocate, Kamilla has done over 10 years’ worth of activist work in influencing debates, policies and practices in the field of gender equality, inclusion, empowerment and cross-cultural dialogue in the Nordics and the EU. 

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Michal Štencl

Founder & CEO of Sygic and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Michal started programming when he was just seven years old and developed his own operating system by the time he was 20. In 2004, he co-founded Sygic, a mobile navigation company focused on business and holiday travellers. It now has more than 20 million active users worldwide. The company became the first to offer navigation for iPhone and the second for Android. In 2015, Sygic reached the milestone of 100 million downloads of its navigation app. It ranks second in the App Annie Index Travel & Local category, just after Google. Sygic’s automotive team cooperates with companies such as Honda, Jaguar and Land Rover to bring the latest connected driving innovation to cars.

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Dimitris Tsigos

Founder and CEO at Starttech Ventures and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Dimitris Tsingos is a serial tech entrepreneur and early stage investor. He is the Founder and CEO of Startech Ventures, a private venture builder and seed investor in Greece. The first Greek seed fund member of the European Business Angels Network, the group has helped launch more than ten successful IT start-ups. Dimitris has been at the helm of various start-ups, including Epignosis, Yodeck, Cycleops and Testilio, among others, and most notably AbZorba Games, a mobile gaming service which was acquired by Novomatic. A passionate European federalist and co-author of the Rome Manifesto, Dimitris initiated the People’s Movement for the European Federal Union. He has also founded the Hellenic Business Angel Network and the Hellenic Start-up Association, a collective effort of Greek start-up entrepreneurs promoting high-growth and innovative entrepreneurship in Greece. He is also the former president of the leading organisation of youth entrepreneurship in Europe, the European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs, and a former fellow at the Marshall Memorial and PSL Research University.

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Jean-Pascal van Ypersele

Professor of Climatology and Environmental Sciences at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and Vice Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2008-2015)

Show more information on Jean-Pascal van Ypersele

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele is a distinguished academic, leading climatologist and experienced science communicator. He has authored many scientific articles, led numerous studies and participated in dozens of UN conferences on climate issues. In 2017, van Ypersele was appointed as one of the 15 eminent scientists to draft the forthcoming UN Global Sustainable Development Report. A recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, he currently teaches climatology and environmental sciences at the Earth and Life Institute at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Belgium.

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