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Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …

For almost a decade the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme has brought together the brightest minds and outside the box leaders to put their innovative thinking to work at building a more forward-thinking Europe that is a global champion for a better world. The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of leaders, able to tackle the increasing disconnects between citizens and political elites, to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies.

These promising and established leaders come from a variety of backgrounds including politics, business, civil society, arts, science and the media.

The 2020 Class of European Young Leaders:


Tune in to the EYLs on Friends of Europe’s Leading Views podcast

Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

Leading view

Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

Joss Garman

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Negar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media

Leading view

Negar Mortazavi on Europe's role in the US-Iran dispute, the Trump factor and the role of media

Negar Mortazavi

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Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

Leading view

Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

Una Mullally

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Continue to Meet the EYL

Meet the EYL40

Riccardo Lattanzi
Riccardo Lattanzi

Assistant Professor (Radiology) at New York University, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Riccardo is a biomedical scientist who develops technology to improve the diagnostic power of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Riccardo achieved his PhD in Medical and Electrical Engineering from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2008. An Assistant Professor of Radiology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, he is also a course director and research supervisor at New York University, and has written numerous conference papers, book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. Riccardo holds the patents for the apparatus, method and computer-accessible medium for a high resolution magnetic resonance imager, and dipole array arrangement. For his scientific research, he has won the prestigious I.I. Rabi Young Investigator Award of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and an NSF CAREER Award.

Sandor Lederer
Sandor Lederer

Co-Founder and CEO of K-Monitor, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Sandor is the Co-Founder and CEO of K-Monitor, a non-profit public funds watchdog based in Budapest. The NGO was founded to improve the current levels of transparency and the rule of law in Hungary. Civic participation and technology driven solutions are among the organizations key instruments. Beside K-Monitor’s tech focus, the organization is also active in anti-corruption advocacy and research. Sandor was contributing to the European Commission’s Anti-corruption Report as the Local Research Country Correspondent for Hungary. One of the recent projects K-Monitor has been working on is redflags.eu, a program that uses algorithmic indicators to analyze risky public procurements.

Photo of Ricardo Baptista Leite
Ricardo Baptista Leite

Member, National Parliament of Portugal, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Ricardo is best known as a Member of the Portuguese Parliament representing the Social Democratic Party. He is also 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. Combining his expert medical knowledge and political career, Riccardo worked towards a PhD in Public Health/Health Management at Maastricht University. Since his election in 2011, the Portuguese-Canadian citizen has expanded his focus beyond health issues and currently serves as Coordinator and Permanent Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee as well as President of the Portugal-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Sander Loones
Sander Loones

Member of the European Parliament, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Sander is a Belgian MEP and member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and is Vice President of Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (The New Flemish Alliance). In the parliament, Sander is Vice Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, and a member of Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Sander has previously worked for the Belgian Ministry of Interior Affairs in the migration office, and as a scientific researcher at the Law faculty of Catholic University Leuven, where he had earned his Masters degree in Law.

Frédéric Mazzella
Frédéric Mazzella

Founder & President of BlaBlaCar, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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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.

Sandro Mendonça
Sandro Mendonça

Fellow of The German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Throughout an extensive and wide-ranging career in international organisations and institutions, Sandro Mendonça’s work has focused predominantly on the economics of innovation and industrial strategies. Mendonça is a Fellow of The German Marshall Fund of the United States and was a Visiting Fellow at King’s College London. In addition to serving as a board member of the Portuguese Communications Regulator (ANACOM), Mendonça was a science officer at the official Ibero-American Programme for Science and Technology (CYTED).  He has published in major international journals and has taught doctoral programmes in mainland China, namely Guanzhou and Chengdu. Sandro’s research has been used by various international organisations, including the United Nations, the European Commission and the US Senate. Mendonça was named a European Young Leader (EYL40) in 2015.  

Michal Olszewski
Michał Olszewski

Deputy Mayor of Warsaw, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Currently Deputy Mayor of Warsaw, Michał has spent the entirety of his professional life in public service. He was already working as a senior expert in the Office of the Committee for European Integration while studying International Relations at Warsaw University. Michał rapidly rose to become Head of the EU Funds Department for the City of Warsaw in 2007, and simultaneously became Chairman of the European Policy Commission in the Association of Polish Cities. Since 2013 responsible for metropolitan cooperation in Warsaw Functional Area and currently Chairman of Warsaw Metropole Association. Tirelessly devoted to improving the city of Warsaw, Michał sits on several municipal councils and associations including the Integrated Territorial Investments Committee and Labour Market Council, both of which he chairs.

Giovanna Pancheri
Giovanna Pancheri

Brussels Correspondent at Sky TG 24 and Michal Olszewski / Deputy Mayor of Warsaw, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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US & UN Correspondent Sky TV Italia Business giovanna.pancheri@skytv.it 2015-2016 Italy Since 2009 Giovanna has been the Brussels Bureau Chief Correspondent for Belgium, France and Germany at SKY TG24, where she was previously a reporter and special correspondent covering the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her work has covered interviews with the US President Obama, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, and French President François Hollande. She has obtained two Master’s degrees, the first in Political Science and International Relations at the Sapienza University of Rome, and the second in European Studies at the College of Europe in Bruges. She has authored numerous academic publications on Italian and international politics.

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Shazia Saleem

Founder, ieat foods, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Shazia founded Ieat Foods, the first British ready meals brand offering halal dishes that are prepared in accordance with Islamic law. Her business aims to give Muslims in the UK more choice about their food and is already seeing great success; Ieat products can now be found in over 300 of UK’s leading supermarket locations. Shazia previously worked as a Business Development Manager for entrepreneur and businessman Peter Jones.

Photo of Hanke Bruins Slot
Hanke Bruins Slot

Member of the Dutch Parliament and former military officer, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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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.

Ivan Štefunko
Ivan Štefunko

Managing Partner and Investment Director, Neulogy Ventures, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Ivan is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor with particular focus on the media and Internet space. He has founded several companies with global or regional impact, including Euractiv.sk, Pelicantravel.com, MONOGRAM Technologies and wineshop.sk. Prior to founding Neulogy Ventures, he was active as an angel investor and investment advisor and was involved in new ventures such as Piano Media, GA Drilling and Diagnose.me. He also co-founded Neulogy, a Bratislava-based consultancy boutique specializing in R&D management and technology commercialization.

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Xenios Thrasyvoulou

Founder & CEO of PeoplePerHour.com, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

Show more information on Xenios Thrasyvoulou

PeoplePerHour.com is the UK’s largest freelance marketplace for digital work. As Founder and CEO, Xenios is in charge of the overall operation of the company as well as its latest innovation, SuperTasker.com, which outsources small tasks efficiently to a pool of curated experts. With offices in Europe and the United States, the company is truly making a dent in one of the world’s fastest growing markets. Xenios has been interviewed by and featured in a number of magazines and newspapers including The Financial Times, Business Insider and Bloomberg. An avid blogger, he is a regular contributor to such media outlets as the Huffington Post, Forbes and Wired Magazine. He is also a professional painter and obtained undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the University of Cambridge.

Krasimira Velichkova
Krasimira Velichkova

Director, Bulgarian Donors' Forum, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

Show more information on Krasimira Velichkova

Krasimira has been the Director of the Bulgarian Donors’ Forum since 2007 – the only association of foundations and corporate donors in Bulgaria. The Forum has a leading role in the development of philanthropy and civil society in the country by advocating for a better legal and fiscal environment, advising corporate and individual donors, developing fundraising platforms, supporting NGOs to partner with donors, and working with the media to change public opinion towards philanthropy and volunteerism in society. Prior to this she was a development officer in “Altera Cultural” association and grants manager of the “Workshop for Civic Initiatives” foundation. Krasimira is experienced in organisational development strategies, fundraising for social and cultural projects, as well as developing and implementing social and cultural policies.  Krasimira is a vice-chair of the steering committee of DAFNE (Donors’ Associations and Foundations Networks in Europe).

María González Veracruz
María González Veracruz

Spokesman, Spanish Congress of Deputies, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

Show more information on María González Veracruz

María is a Spanish politician currently serving as a Member of the Congress of Deputies for the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE). María’s background is in biochemistry, having earned a degree in the subject with research experience in molecular genetics. She entered politics at an early age, becoming Secretary General of the Young Socialists for the Region of Murcia in 2003, and was appointed Secretary for Housing and Quality of Life in the Federal Executive Committee of the party in 2007 when she was elected as Member of the Regional Assembly of Murcia. In the 2011 general election, María was elected to the Congress of Deputies, and has been Secretary of Innovation and New Technologies in the PSOE Federal Executive since then.

Jan Veselý
Jan Veselý

Innovation Laboratory, Charles University, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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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.

Continue to Selection process

Selection process

The EYL40 programme is a unique, multi-stakeholder programme which aims to promote a sense of European identity by bringing together forty of the brightest European leaders every year and engaging them in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future. We aim to select 40 European Young Leaders of diverse backgrounds in order to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders. Additionally, in 2020, the programme will include 6 Young Leaders from the Western Balkan region. In doing so, we aim to promote structural dialogue across the continent that will foster better mutual understanding.

Since the launch of the programme in 2012, we have gradually taken steps to ensure the diversity and exceptional quality of its selection process. We have made sure that its comprehensive and competitive nature ensures the identification and selection of remarkable individuals. Candidates can either apply or be nominated for the selection process of the programme.

Selection criteria:

  •  Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age;
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path towards EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro);
  • Candidates should have established themselves the highest levels of their chosen profession, or be on track to do so;
  • Candidates must be committed to serve society at large through noteworthy contributions and have demonstrated a record of significant achievements and outstanding professional experience;
  • Candidates are also evaluated based on their ability to contribute to the enrichment of the programme as a whole;
  • Candidates are required to be fluent in English as it is the working language of the programme;
  • Candidates must commit to participating in at least one seminar during the programme year.

The deadline for nominations and applications for the 2020 European Young Leaders class has passed. We are currently reviewing the candidates and aim to announce the 2020 class before the end of 2019. We will open the application and nomination period for the class of 2021 in the spring of 2020.

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