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 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.
Meet the Class of 2019
The programme was initially conceived with EuropaNova, a Paris-based think-tank.
Thomas is the Founder of ERGON, an affordable, high-quality Greek restaurant chain-come-grocery store outlet that now has locations in 13 cities worldwide. Thanks to a network of over 150 independent, local, artisanal producers who create 600 products under the unified ERGON brand, the company is able to offer the widest available range of the best that Greece produce has to offer. A role model and an inspiring entrepreneur, Thomas has set an encouraging example for Greek youths on how to thrive in the face of devastating recession.
Xavier is a synthetic biologist and entrepreneur who was named French Innovator of the Year by MIT Technology Review in 2015. He co-founded Eligo Bioscience, where he has developed a system that uses genetic editing techniques and nanotechnology and designs new types of medicine to eliminate specific bacteria and leave the others intact. After winning several start-up competitions, the company has recently raised €2.4m in seed funding. Xavier also co-founded Hello Tomorrow, a global non-profit organisation that aims to accelerate science and tech innovation by empowering start-ups and offering cash prizes and connections with industrials and investors. Xavier is a senior adviser to the French government on emerging technologies and their impact on industry.
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.
Lukasz is head of the Marguerite Fund office for the Central and Eastern Europe. He is also a member of the management board for the Marguerite Fund 2020 for Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure in Luxembourg. There, Lukasz oversees the formulation of financial and operational strategies. He is also on the supervisory board of Pomeranka Development, InvestGas and Energa Operator in Poland, and of PZU Ukraine Insurance Company and Kredobank, also in Ukraine. Lukasz began his career as an adviser in the European Parliament, focusing on energy policy and security as well as EU relations with Russia and Ukraine.
Agnieszka is among Poland’s most recognised social activists and a strong advocate of women’s rights. In 2015, she was instrumental in leading demonstrations that became known as ‘Black Monday’, in which Polish women protested against anti-abortion laws. Days after Black Monday, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against the proposal and the Minister of Science and Higher Education Jaroslaw Gowin said the protests “caused us to think and taught us humility.” Agnieszka is a board member of the leftist Razem party and, in 2016, was listed as one of top 100 most influential Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Journal.
Colum has been at the heart of the post-conflict success story in Derry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland. He was only 27 years old when he was elected as the city’s mayor in 2010. In this position, he championed Derry as a city of culture and transformed its image. Throughout the years, Colum continuously stood against dissident republican violence and steadfastly called for an end to terrorist activities by armed groups. Following his election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011, Colum was appointed as the SDLP representative on the committee overseeing the work of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. He currently sits on the Committee for Communities, which plays a key role in debating and developing legislation.
Lina is co-founder and editor-in-chief of 7iber.com, a Jordanian citizen media platform and online magazine, created to inform and engage communities in order to develop a more open society. It is known for publishing taboo political, economic, social, and religious topics that mainstream media avoid. In addition to its online presence, 7iber.com delivers trainings, workshops, debates, and talks. Lina advocates for freedom of press, universal rights and access to information, taking part in numerous meetings and conferences in order to promote these.
Adil co-directed three movies, one TV series and two award-winning short movies. His two first feature movies, ‘Image’ (2010) and ‘Black’ (2015), co-directed with his friend Bilall Fallah, are set in run-down districts of Brussels. ‘Black’, which features non-professional young actors, premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The plot brings a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ love story to street gangs in modern-day Brussels. Adil became a celebrity by winning ‘The Smartest Person in the World’ quiz on Flemish television. In 2016, the renowned American producer Jerry Bruckheimer entrusted him and Bilall Fallah with the direction of ‘Beverly Hills Cop 4’, the latest in a series of movies starring Eddie Murphy.
Othman El Ferdaous is a public affairs and strategic communication professional, listed among the 50 most influential Moroccans under 40 by Telquel Magazine in 2016. He is a strong advocate for EU-Maghreb integration and founded clubgibraltar.org, a non-profit organization aiming to provide a "South-North" perspective on European affairs, especially policy and institutions matters regarding the Mediterranean and Africa. He is also a board member of Sciences Po Alumni Morocco, focused on fostering reverse brain drain by mentoring Moroccan students. He releases a monthly newsletter covering Moroccan issues read by +7000 subscribers.
Nassira is a French journalist and one of the few female editors-in-chief of a French national media outlet. She began her career as a TV reporter and news anchor at Itele/Canal+ before joining France 2 where she worked as a reporter for the evening TV news. In 2016, she took the helm of the Bondy Blog, a news website that gives voices to the voiceless. In her work, Nassira puts the emphasis on local investigations, especially of marginalised people living on the outskirts of cities, particularly around Paris.
Who are we looking for?
We’re looking for a new generation of change-makers – a new class of European Young Leaders who will carry the baton forward and help lead Europe into a better, brighter future. Do you know anyone who fits the bill?
The candidates should be European citizens between 30 and 40 years of age (born in 1979 or afterwards); with a proven track record as established opinion leaders in their fields of activity, including, but not limited to: politics, science, business, media, the arts, and civil society. We look for candidates who are creative, committed and passionate about reshaping the world and we are particularly interested in those who have not only demonstrated a strong engagement with Europe, but who are also on track to reach the highest ranks of their field of expertise. Past candidates include: government ministers, CEOs, Michelin-starred chefs, international film directors, and high profile journalists.
Every year we are amazed at how incredible each new class is. Help us make the 2019 class of European Young Leaders one for the record.
Current and previous European Young Leaders include
Jesse Klaver, Leader of the Dutch Green party “GroenLinks”
Eleni Antoniadou, Co-Founder of Transplants without Donors
Adil El Arbi, Film Director and Screenwriter
Virginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome
Eneko Atxa, Chef at three-Michelin-starred restaurant Azurmendi
Kaja Kallas, Member of the European Parliament
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society
Bastian Obermayer, Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist
John Collison, President & Co-Founder of Stripe
Selina Juul, Founder and Chairman of the Stop Wasting Food movement
Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the French Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition
Janis Jonevs, Author and winner of the European prize for literature
Humza Yousaf, Scottish Minister for Transport and Islands
Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Astrophysicist and discoverer of the Proxima b exoplanet
Dionysis Grammenos, Award-winning conductor and clarinetist
Jens Spahn, Minister for Health, National Parliament of Germany (Bundestag)
Frédéric Mazzella, CEO and Founder of BlablaCar
Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, Founder & President of Women’s Worldwide Web
Carole Dieschbourg, Minister for the Environment, National Parliament of Luxembourg
For personal applications:
Please send your CV (including date of birth and full contact details), together with a cover letter explaining why you believe that you should be considered for the EYL40 programme.
Please send the full name, date of birth and full contact details of the candidate that you wish to nominate, together with a short biography of their professional background and achievements, and a letter explaining why you believe that they are a suitable candidate for the programme.
The 2019 nomination process is now officially closed.
Thank you to all those who nominated candidates or submitted an application for the Class of 2019.
Kindly note that only successful applicants will be contacted.
About the EYL40 Programme
The European Young Leaders programme is a unique, multi-stakeholder programme, which aims to promote a sense of European identity by bringing together 40 of the most promising European leaders and engaging them in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future. The relaxed tone, and out-of-the-box nature of the programme have led to salient and open discussions and created a strong leadership network of committed Europeans.
The programme was initially conceived with EuropaNova, a Paris-based think-tank.
With the support of