About

Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …

We’ve learned time and again that the challenges of the 21st century and of our ever complex world, cannot be addressed using the rulebooks of the past. The world is screaming for a new type of leadership and a renewed social contract in which the private sector, local and multilateral institutions, a citizens can collaborate and be the drivers of change.
Today’s leaders may look back in time for inspiration, but they must lead with innovation.
The European Young Leaders represent an alternative infrastructure of leadership, a new generation of leaders able to inspire action and generate change. Their passion, their diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and their innovative thinking together create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.
Our European leaders provide alternative perspectives from outside the institutional and political frameworks to EU decisionmakers writing the rule book.
The European Young Leaders also play the essential role of helping to reconnect people with and rebuild trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole economy whole society approach to progress fast.
They are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by multilateral or frameworks, or burocracy.

They help take Europe out of Brussels, in their own countries and cities. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and help build a European identity.

The programme in the next years will take a new localism lens, bringing together these thinkers and leaders to act on some of the key issues affecting Europe’s future: the green and digital transformation, strengthening of our democracy, relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing, and building a more gender and diverse Europe.

Succeeding in these policies together and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.


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

Photo of Juhan Lepassaar
Juhan Lepassaar

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

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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).

Guillaume Liegey
Guillaume Liegey

CEO of eXplain and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Guillaume is an expert in electoral strategy. He began his career in Beijing before joining the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for 4 years in France and in the United States. In 2012, he joined the French presidential campaign team of François Hollande, in which he oversaw the field campaign strategy to reach out to 5 million households, led the rollout of the campaign in 30 departments and coordinated the communication strategy. He then co-founded a political strategy firm Liegey Muller Pons to help other European political parties improve the way they run their election campaigns and engage with citizens before and after the polls. Guillaume is the co-author of Porte-à-porte, Reconquérir la démocratie sur le terrain (2013). He is also a lecturer at Sciences Po Paris, where he teaches a course on electoral campaigns. Guillaume is a graduate of HEC and Harvard, holding a Master in Public Administration and a MSc in Management.

Antonia Meszaros
Antonia Meszaros

Managing Director United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Before becoming Executive Director of UNICEF Hungary in 2017, Antonia was a well-known Hungarian journalist, television presenter, author and documentary filmmaker. She has interviewed just about every EU politician that visited Hungary in recent years. She hosted Hungary’s main evening current affairs programme from 2007 to 2011, but was forced to leave the national public broadcaster MTV, along with thousands of colleagues after the new government “reorganised” public broadcasting and has been working at ATV, an independent news channel ever since. Antonia has participated in charitable projects and literacy campaigns aimed at helping the Roma population. For the last few years she has also been asked to head a Hungarian foundation recognising and rewarding journalistic achievements and organising events and workshops for media professionals. She is an English Literature graduate from ELTE University in Budapest.

Blazej Moder
Blazej Moder

Managing Director of EC1 Lodz – City of Culture and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Blazej is Managing Director of EC1 Lodz, a cultural hub which hosts cultural, educational and business events in Poland’s third largest city. It also houses three museums dedicated to science, the heritage of motion pictures and the phenomenon of comics and video games art. Blazej is an expert in project management, with over a decade’s worth of experience in project development, implementation and operation. He is the former managing director of the New Center of Lodz, a large urban redevelopment programme aimed at revitalising the area around the Lodz railway station to create a new multifunction city centre. He has also previously served in a number of key executive roles in various regional and local public utilities companies and business environment institutions. Blazej currently serves as an advisor to the Board for International Affairs of the Civil Development Forum.

Daniela Ott
Daniela Ott

Founder of Agape Strategy Consulting and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Passionate about consumers’ needs and desires, Daniela is an expert in brand management, strategy and finances, as well as merchandising and product knowledge. She is the Founder of Agape Strategy Consulting, which supports luxury and fashion brands with their brand, product and go-to-market strategy. Daniela also teaches a class on Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC Business School in Paris. Daniela has a wealth of experience in the industry as the former CEO of Eden Being at the Oetker Collection, CEO of Tomas Maier and COO of the Kering Luxury Division at Kering, director of strategy at Gucci Group and director of strategy and marketing at Balenciaga. In addition to being recognised as one of Women’s Forum Rising Talents, Daniela has been a recipient of the LSE Research Award and the Economic & Social Research Council Award.

João Rodrigo Pinho de Almeida
João Rodrigo Pinho de Almeida

Member, National Parliament of Portugal and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Nina Rawal
Nina Rawal

Founder of Emerging Health Ventures and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Nina is the founder of a venture capital fund focused on affordable medicine and medical products. Prior to her current role, Nina was the head of life science at the Swedish Industriaal Development Fund, a €500mn venture capital fund, where she was responsible for international business development in early life science companies. She has also previously served as the head of strategy and ventures at Baxter Group, formerly Gambro, a leading global medical technology company. Nina sits on the boards of MedCap AB and Stockholms Sjukhem, a non-profit hospital. In recognition of her work, Nina was selected among the Women’s Forum Rising Talents in 2012.

Ivana Sendecka
Ivana Sendecka

Founder, Next Generation Leaders of Slovakia and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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In 2009, Ivana founded the NGO Next Generation Leaders of Slovakia (NGLS), which is a platform and movement dedicated to developing leadership skills, inspiring action and connecting influential Slovakian people. Ivana previously worked in Dubai, as a wealth management banker and sales executive. Returning to Slovakia in 2007, she conducted management consulting for multinational banks and governments and developed a strong interest in the power of new social media platforms to transform the worlds of work and innovation. Since its inception, the NGLS programme has reached hundreds of young Slovaks. Her personal story was featured in two books. She has been a keynote speaker at several prestigious events and featured as an “opinion leader” in many articles. Ivana hold a MBA in Strategic Management from Comenius University in Bratislava.

Michał Szczerba
Michał Szczerba

Member of Parliament, Sejm, Poland and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Michal is currently a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Polish Parliament and sits on the Justice and Human Rights Committee. Before he started working for the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, in 2007, he was the Representative of the Parliament to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and sat on the State Treasury Committee. Previously, Michal worked as an expert on EU funding for restructuring and modernising agriculture and was on the Wola District Council of Warsaw. In 2011, Michal received the Order of Honour from the President of the Republic of Georgia, and has been part of numerous leadership training programmes. He holds an MSc in Sociology from the University of Warsaw.

Photo of Irene Tinagli
Irene Tinagli

Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Irene Tinagli is an Italian economist and politician who has been serving in the European Parliament since 2019. Before coming to Brussels, Tinagli was a Member of the Italian Parliament, sitting on the Committee on Public and Private Employment and on the Committee on Infancy and Childhood. She also taught Management and Organisation Design at the Carlos III University in Madrid and worked as an expert for the European Commission on creativity and innovation. In Italy, Tinagli served as an advisor to the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Justice.

Shahin Vallée
Shahin Vallée

Head of the Geo-Economics Programme at the German Council on Foreign Relations and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Shahin is Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. He is also affiliated with the European Institute of the London School of Economics and is a member of the euro50 group, a group of senior current and former European policymakers in Europe. Prior to this Shahin was a Senior Economist at Soros Fund Management and he was also the Economic Advisor to the French Economy Minister until April 2015. Shahin has also been the Economic Advisor to the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. In this capacity, he worked in particular on issues pertaining to European economic policy, the architecture of the euro area and the consequences of the economic and financial crisis.

Maria Vlachou
The late Maria Vlachou

Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Fereikos and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on The late Maria Vlachou

Maria was the CEO of Fereikos-Helix, a company that oversees the development of organic snail farming globally and CEO of Maria Vlachou LTD, specialising in the branding, packaging and export of Greek high-quality agricultural products. In 2011, Maria she was awarded the Greek Entrepreneur of the Year prize and in 2013, she was included in the Fortune list of “40 under 40” in Greece. In addition, she was on the advisory board of Hellenic Start-Up Association and mentor at several start-up initiatives such as Startup live Athens.

Maria left us too soon on 24 July 2019.

Goran Vojnović
Goran Vojnović

Writer, Poet, Screenwriter, and Film Director and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Goran holds a degree from the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, where he specialised in film and television directing. He has directed several short films and co-wrote a screenplay with Marko Šantić for the film Good Luck Nedim, which was nominated for a European Film Academy Award in 2006. In 2010, he directed his first feature film Piran/Pirano. Čefurji raus! (“Southern Scum Go Home!”, 2008) is his bestselling debut novel for which he received the Prešeren Fund Award and the Kresnik Award for best novel of the year. His second novel Jugoslavija, moja dežela (“Yugoslavia, My Country”) was published in 2012 and achieved immediate success among Slovenian readers. Goran is also a weekly columnist for one of country’s biggest newspapers, Dnevnik, and is currently working on his new film based on his debut novel.

Max von Bismarck
Max von Bismarck

Chief Business Officer & Managing Director, Deposit Solutions and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Max is a European serial entrepreneur and Chief Business Officer of Deposit Solutions. Previously Max was Partner and CEO Europe for SkyBridge Capital, the global alternative investment firm, and Director and Head of Investors at the World Economic Forum in Geneva and New York. Furthermore, he was a Co-Founder & Managing Director at Public One Strategy Consulting, and part of the initial team of the technology company Mondus Limited that originated out of Oxford University. He serves as Senior Advisor Europe to the Berggruen Institute and is a former Senior Advisor on Global Business at the Asia-Pacific Research Center of Stanford University.

Yuriy Vulkovsky
Yuriy Vulkovsky

Country Manager, Reach for Change and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Yuriy Vulkovsky

Yuriy is a Country Manager for Bulgaria of the International Foundation “Reach for Change” which supports social innovators and social entrepreneurs in 18 countries at 3 continents. He has more than 20 years of experience in the non-governmental sector in Bulgaria and Europe working for the capacity building of the independent social and cultural organisations, as well fighting for government transparency and effectiveness. He believes that the change starts from bottom up and the innovation emerges from the periphery, not from the center. German Marshall Fund and Salzburg Global Seminar Alumni. Member of the Strategy Group of the European Initiative “A Soul for Europe”.

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Continue to Selection process

Selection process

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE APPLICATION DEADLINE WAS MARCH 15. THE APPLICATION PROCESS IS NOW CLOSED

The European Young Leaders programme 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 European Young Leaders represent the most 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 programme acts as a forum for those who have already established themselves at the forefront of their professions to meet, discuss and collaborate with their counterparts from other fields of expertise. Previous candidates include: government ministers, CEOs, Michelin-starred chefs, international film directors, and high profile journalists.

Since the launch of the programme, 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.

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.

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1982);
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path towards EU integration (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia);
  • Candidates should have established themselves at 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.

To be considered for the 2022 selection process, all applications and nominations must be sent to: eyl40@friendsofeurope.org

Application deadline: Monday, 15 March 2021

To read in detail about the selection process, please click here

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