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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

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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 Maraga
Riccardo Maraga

Lawyer, Head of Industrial relations of Federturismo Confindustria, Ughi e Nunziante, 2012 European Young Leader

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A highly regarded Italian lawyer, Riccardo currently shares his time between Federturismo Confindustria and Ughi e Nunziante, where he’s an expert on employment law as well as privacy and data protection. Riccardo was previously Mayor of the city of Amelia in the Umbria region. At the time one of the youngest politicians in Italy, He was a member of the Democratic Party focussing on sustainable development and global governance. As an elected official, he took pride being in direct contact with citizens. He has published several articles on European social and labour regulations in labour law magazines and reviews.

Raffaele Mauro
Raffaele Mauro

Managing Director, Endeavor Italy, 2012 European Young Leader

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Raffaele is Investment Manager at Annapurna Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early stage investments in web services, mobile applications and digital technology. He holds a PhD in Economic History from Bocconi University and is Adjunct Professor at the Collegio di Milano, where he teaches courses on entrepreneurship, network economics and the social science of the Internet. He also advises the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy and is Co-founder of www.lospaziodellapolitica.com. He previously worked as an editor for Harvard Business Review’s Italian Edition and in various branches of Confindustria developing projects and conducting research related to emerging markets, entrepreneurship and corporate finance. He is also quite active in the public debate as a political blogger. He has received many awards and accolades including being accepted into the McKinsey EuroAcademy in 2008, and was chosen by the Italian government as one of the top 200 ‘national talents’ in 2010.

Souad Mekhennet
Souad Mekhennet

National Security Reporter at The Washington Post, 2012 European Young Leader

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Souad is a German journalist of Turkish and Moroccan descent who works for prestigious international magazines, newspapers and TV channels, such as The New York Times, ZDF and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. She specialises in stories relating to terrorist organisations and Islam, and she recently covered the Egyptian demonstrations at the height of the Arab Spring. She is also Co-author of two German language books that deal with the issues of political Islam and jihad, The Children of Jihad and Islam. In 2009 the independent jury of the magazine medium named her one of the Top 3 reporters in German speaking countries. Souad is also the author of the book ‘I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad’, published in 2017.

João Wengorovius Meneses
João Wengorovius Meneses

Secretary General, BSCD Portugal, 2012 European Young Leader

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João is the Secretary General of the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Portugal (BCSD Portugal), a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Global Network. Prior to assuming his current role, João held several roles in the public, private and non profit sectors. He served as Secretary of State for Youth and Sports in the Portuguese Government, had several roles in the Portuguese startup ecosystem (as head of Startup Discoveries, a venture capital fund, head of the REACTOR – Innovation Hub, and head of the Mouraria Creative Hub). He also served as director of GABIP Mouraria, a mission unit reporting to the mayor of Lisbon that led the rehabilitation of Mouraria – in the past a deprived area in the center of Lisbon, but also its most traditional and multicultural quarter. Finally, he’s the founder of HUB 2050, a consulting firm acting in the field of innovation for sustainability, and author of two books about management and innovation.»

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Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke

Founder and President of Women’s WorldWide Web and European Young Leader

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Lindsey is Founder and CEO of a web-based philanthropy platform, Women’s Worldwide Web, dedicated to connecting and empowering girls and women around the world through education, microfinance, mentoring and networking. She also works for Enfants d’Asie, a humanitarian NGO that provides care for over 10,000 children in South-East Asia. In 2009 she won the Independent MBA Student of the Year Award that recognises exceptional MBA students with a talent for leadership.

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Sofi Oksanen

Author, Novelist and Theatrical Writer, 2012 European Young Leader

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Sofi is a Finnish-Estonian contemporary novelist and theatrical writer who was catapulted into the elite of Finnish literary authors with her first novel, Stalin’s Cows (2003). It created a heated public debate and led to her being nominated for the Runeberg Award, one of Finland’s most prestigious literary prizes. Her first original play, Purge (2008), became a novel ranking number 1 on Finland’s bestseller list. She received numerous awards for Purge, such as the Prix Femina Etranger en France, the European Book Prize and the Nordic Council Literature Prize. She appears regularly in the media and is also known for her opinions in favour of women’s rights and the promotion of equality. For these efforts she has received an award from the University of Helsinki—the University from which she also holds a degree in Literature.

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Martin Ott

EMEA Managing Director for We Company, 2012 European Young Leader

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Martin Ott is EMEA Managing Director for We Company. He was previously Managing Director Central Europe at Facebook, responsible for the development of Facebook’s business in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and Eastern Europe. With more than 15 years of leadership experience in the digital industry, he advises companies from start-ups to leading global brands on their growth opportunities in the digital world. Prior to joining Facebook in 2012, Martin built one of Europe‘s fastest growing payment unicorns as the Co-Chief Executive Office of Skrill Group in London. With 30M users, Skrill (formerly known as Moneybookers) was an early pioneer in offering global money transfer services. Previously the COO of Jamba/Jamster, he oversaw marketing, services and content as well as building and operating the consumer business, leading up to the groups’s acquisition by News Corporation. He also supports the board of trustees of AfriKids, a London headquartered NGO which supports sustainable development projects in Ghana.

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Dominik Risse

Vice-President Colorant Additives Business, Lanxess, 2012 European Young Leader

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Dominik is Global Head of Marketing at LANXESS AG (Leverkusen, Germany), a leading global specialty chemicals group. Prior to this, he held various management roles in the chemical industry (LANXESS, Bayer) including a nearly 4 year assignment in Southeast Asia. His political record includes activities at both the regional and national levels for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), as well as for the Junge Union and the Wirtschaftsrat Deutschland (the Economic Council of the CDU). Dominik holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Bradford University School of Management and attended INSEAD’s Leadership Programme in Singapore.

Sara García Ruiz
Sara García Ruiz

Engineer, S.A. de Electronica Submarina (SAES), 2012 European Young Leader

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Sara is an engineer at S.A. de Electronica Submarina (SAES), a company specialised in submarine electronics and acoustics. Prior to this, she was a Member of the Murcian regional Parliament where she served as First Secretary of the Defense Committee as well as a Member of the Science and Innovation and Equality Committees. She has been a Member of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party since she was 16. She studied communications engineering and has worked in the defence policy sector. She stands for male-female parity in Spain’s politics and for the presence of members of parliament of all ages.

Aziz Senni
Aziz Senni

Founder and President, Alliance Transport et Accompagnement, 2012 European Young Leader

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Aziz is a young French entrepreneur, Founder and President of Alliance Transport et Accompagnement, a ‘collective taxi’ company for the region of Paris, and Founder and President of Business Angel des Cités, a social investment fund for the development of Parisian suburban areas. Aziz has published two books in France, the first on the ‘social glass ceiling’ entitled L’ascenseur social est en panne… j’ai pris l’escalier (The social elevator is broken, I took the stairs), and the second, Monte ton BIZ (Create your own business: 10 commandments of the entrepreneur coming from suburbs) on how to become a successful entrepreneur when coming from a under-privileged neighbourhood. He has received several awards from the French government including the Médaille de l’Assemblée nationale (the National Assembly Medal).

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Jens Spahn

Ministry of Health, Germany, 2012 European Young Leader

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Jens is the Federal Minister of Health in the Cabinet of Angela Merkel. He has been a member of the Bundestag since 2002, with responsibility for health policies, and a Member of the CDU/CSU Youth Group. He has gathered his experience in government during his time as the Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Finance, a post he has held since July 2015. He holds a degree in Banking and Political Science from the University of Hagen, and previously worked as a banker in his hometown of Munster. Jens is a founding member of the ‘Young Member of Parliament’ cross-party group that promotes integration and equality in politics and society.

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Farid Tabarki

Founder and Director, Studio Zeitgeist, 2012 European Young Leader

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Farid is a researcher, writer, presenter and entrepreneur. He is the Founder and Director of Studio Zeitgeist, and as such coordinates research and develops projects on the local, national and European level. He also works closely with research institutes such as the Open Society Institute and the University of Amsterdam. Prior to this he was Editor in Chief and Presenter for Coolpolitics, a Dutch civic social organisation that encourages younger generations to shape their roles as citizens. In 2006, 2007 and 2010, he presented the parliamentary election edition of MTV Coolpolitics, featuring debates between leading politicians. He is also a member of numerous organisations, such as the Netherlands Architect Institute and the Foundation for Democracy and Media, and is involved in various initiatives such as co-hosting TEDx Rotterdam and advising the City of Belgrade on their European Centre for Culture and Debate

Vessela Tcherneva
Vessela Tcherneva

Deputy Director, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), 2012 European Young Leader

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Vessela is Spokesperson and Member of Cabinet for the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously, she was Director of the Bulgarian office of the European Foreign Policy Council and Programme Director of the Centre for Liberal Strategies. Between 2004 and 2006 she was Secretary of the International Commission on the Balkans, chaired by Giuliano Amato. She is Observing Editor of Foreign Policy – Bulgaria magazine, a position she has held since its launch in 2005.

Mathieu Vedrenne
Mathieu Vedrenne

Chief Executive Officer, Société Générale Private Banking, 2012 European Young Leader

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Mathieu is Chief Executive Officer of Société Générale Private Banking Switzerland since 2012. Prior to this he was Chief of Staff to the CEO of Société Générale, one of the major banking services companies in Europe. He joined the company in 2001, after having worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for 3 years, and quickly climbed the professional ladder within the company. He was selected for the company’s Executive Programme for the top performing employees. He is a sponsor of the 2010-2012 HEC Entrepreneur Diversity Programme and is a Member of the Executive Committee of the Fondation Croissance Responsable (Responsible Growth Foundation).

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Events

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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