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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

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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

Karoli Hindriks
Karoli Hindriks

Founder and CEO of Jobbatical and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Karoli is an Estonian entrepreneur and creator of the forward-looking global mobility company Jobbatical. On a mission to make immigration more resourceful, Jobbatical is changing individuals’ lives and building high-performing teams by relocating exceptional people to impactful tech jobs around the world. Since founding her first company at the age of 16, officially making her the youngest inventor in her native Estonia, Karoli has been on a fast-track to setting up innovative initiatives. She is regularly counted amongst today’s most influential women, having received numerous awards and speaking at notable international events. Thanks to her influence, she also led the launch of seven television channels in Northern Europe, including National Geographic Channels and MTV.

Hera Hussain
Hera Hussain

Founder of CHAYN and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Hera is a Scottish activist, feminist and tech expert. Passionate about empowering women, she created CHAYN as a global project run by volunteers that crowdsources online resources to address gender-based violence. CHAYN has reached more than 300,000 people through its projects targeted to helping survivors of abuse. Hera is a fervent believer in the power of open source technology and open data as a tool to solve the world’s pressing issues. When she is not busy running CHAYN, Hera works with governments and civil society seeking to open data sets as a way to fight corruption.

Qëndron Kastrati
Qëndron Kastrati

Mayor of Kamenica, Kosovo and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Qëndron is the youngest mayor in Kosovo, having been elected to lead the town of Kamenica at only 29. He is known for his progressive approach, having a predominantly female cabinet. As mayor, he has been resolute in his mission to make his town a genuinely multi-ethnic community and to bridge existing ethnic divides. He reformed the local education system and created a joint multi-ethnic school for Albanians, Serbs and Roma children. He has also walked the talk by installing translation booths in the municipal assembly, so Serbs can participate fully in meetings.

Kamal Kharmach
Kamal Kharmach

Belgian stand-up comedian and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kamal is one of the rising stars of the Belgian stand-up comedy scene, winner of several awards. He openly tackles sensitive and personal issues, such as obesity, discrimination and social injustice. Kamal was previously the Director of the Flemish-Moroccan culture house Daarkom. This cultural organisation seeks to bring about cultural exchange between diverse groups. Kamal is also a well-known TV host. An immigrant and stand-up comedian, he uses his platform to bring light to social abuses through a positive and humorous approach. His mix of television shows range from providing economic guidance for struggling companies, to blending comedy with politics.

Meeri Koutaniemi
Meeri Koutaniemi

Photographer, Documentary Film-maker, Cinematographer and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Meeri is an internationally renowned Finnish photographer and journalist, admired for her coverage of and portraits on human rights, minorities and empowerment. She garnered significant attention for her work on female genital mutilation in Kenya. This won her the Visa D’or Daily Press Award at France’s most prestigious photojournalism festival, Visa pour l’Image, and the Freelens Award at the Lumix Photo Festival in Hannover. She is also a seasoned documentary filmmaker, focusing her attention on disadvantaged groups such as the ‘Findian’ community in the US or transsexual Mayans in Mexico.

Ivan Lesay
Ivan Lesay

Co-Founder and CEO of Slovak Investment Holding, fiction writer and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ivan is a political scientist, economic advisor and writer from Slovakia. Shortly after joining the Slovak Ministry of Finance as advisor to the minister, Ivan instigated the setup of the Slovak Investment Holding (SIH). Since being appointed its CEO in January 2017, Ivan has led this state-owned fund in investing in strategic sectors of the economy, and driving economic development throughout the country. He previously served as deputy finance minister, and held leading roles during the Slovak Presidency in the EU Council. Ivan is a keen writer and has seen the publication of a number of his works, including a popular study of the 2008 Financial Crisis he co-authored and a children’s book.

Domna Michailidou
Domna Michailidou

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Greece and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Domna is a Greek deputy minister and economist working on growth strategy, capital markets and public finance. She was previously reforms’ advisor to Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Leader of New Democracy and Greek Prime Minister. Domna has advised several governmental and non-governmental institutions including the UN Development Programme, the British Council and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). She has also worked for the OECD in Paris and Athens as an economist and competition expert. In addition to her governmental work, Domna teaches economics courses at Cambridge and University College London and has written a number of publications and books.

Balint Misetics
Bàlint Misetics

Civil activist, Founder of ‘The City Is For All’ and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Bálint is a Hungarian social policy specialist whose work integrates research, advocacy and fieldwork. As of 2020, he is the senior advisor on social and housing policy for the Mayor of Budapest. Involved in civil activism since his teens, Bálint co-founded The City Is For All, a community organisation dedicated to empowering homeless people and advancing housing justice. A fervent believer in the need to address the root cause of housing and economic inequality rather than the symptom of homelessness itself, Bálint has succeeded in significantly impacting the discourse and politics surrounding homelessness and housing poverty in Hungary. He also set up and coordinates an emergency service combining social work and non-violent resistance to prevent the eviction of impoverished families.

Tomas Petříček
Tomáš Petříček

Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Tomáš is a leading politician from the Czech Social Democratic Party. A long-time activist, he quickly climbed through the ranks, rising from MEP assistant to deputy minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his current portfolio, Tomáš has gained a reputation as a firm supporter of the European project and a strong advocate for human rights. He has notably been vocal about the Jamal Khashoggi assassination, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights. He has also called for the adoption of the UN Global Migration Pact, to ensure safe international immigration.

Jonathan Petrides
Jonathan Petrides

Co-Founder and CEO of AllPlants, and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Jonathan is an innovative Cypriot serial entrepreneur who is convinced that the best thing to do for the planet is to inspire far more people to eat plants. He launched a successful vegan ready meals business in 2016. From their kitchen in London they use bold flavours and hyper convenience to bring more plants onto plates across the UK. With chef-made plant-based food delivered nationwide, they are inspiring more people to eat healthily and in turn are helping the planet. Since launching the company, he has received a number of culinary awards for pushing the boundaries. Constantly striving to bring innovative people together and easing citizens’ lives, Jonathan previously launched a Kenyan mobile banking app and a network of rural health centres.

CRISTINA POZZI
Cristina Pozzi

Co-Founder and CEO of Impactscool and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Cristina is an Italian businesswoman and social entrepreneur pursuing the world-changing challenge of bringing awareness to the impact of emerging technology. After co-founding and eventually selling her company Wish Days, she started Impactscool, a non-profit devoted to stimulating reflection and critical thinking on the ethics of the fourth industrial revolution and its new technologies. To this end, it encourages citizens to adopt a more forward-thinking approach on the true meaning of technological change. Cristina’s motto of “the future is open source” is a hint to the understanding that our future is something we have to build together. Possible future scenarios and their impacts on our everyday life were explored in her book “Welcome to 2050”.

Anne Reichert
Anne Kjær Bathel

CEO of ReDI School of Digital Integration and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Anne is CEO of the ReDI School of Digital Integration, a vocational training programme in Germany that teaches programming and tech skills to asylum seekers. Previously, while working as a corporate social responsibility consultant, Anne developed and implemented Samsung Electronics’ award-winning corporate social responsibility strategy for Scandinavia. She then spent two years in Japan, researching open social innovation and received the prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship. In 2012, Anne set up the Berlin Peace Innovation Lab, which focuses on how technology is facilitating emerging and measurable social change toward global peace.

Mate Rimac
Mate Rimac

Founder of Rimac Automobil and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Mate is a Croatian innovator, entrepreneur, and founder of the car company Rimac Automobili. He started off at the age of 19 in a borrowed garage, tinkering, dreaming, and already thinking several years ahead of the traditional car industry. Soon enough, he built a global name for himself, crafting battery tech for the likes of Aston Martin and Renault. He also created the world’s first electric ‘supercar’, the Rimac Concept One. In 2012, he set out to prove that electric cars could be faster than conventional fuel. His dream became reality, as Mate’s ‘Green Monster’ electric car won a Guinness World Record for the fastest ¼ mile. He’s received widespread recognition and support for his projects, including USD 90 mi investment from Hyundai and Kia.

Anne-Solene Rolland
Anne-Solène Rolland

Director of national museums at French Ministry of Culture and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Anne-Solène heads the department of museums at the French Ministry of Culture. A fierce advocate for history and heritage, she has shaped her career around showcasing the societal benefits of cultural conservation. As a curator of heritage, she has held leading positions at the prestigious Quai Branly Museum and the French National Museum of Immigration History. Anne-Solène has also been director of research and collections at the Louvre Museum, where she oversaw the acquisition and lending of the museum’s artwork. She played an instrumental role in increasing the availability of the world’s finest art to a greater number of people.

Marcelino Sambe
Marcelino Sambé

Principal dancer with The Royal Ballet in London and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Marcelino, from Portugal, is a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet in London. Born in the outskirts of Lisbon, Marcelino discovered from an early age a talent and passion for dance, and was accepted to the National Conservatory of Lisbon, before joining The Royal Ballet Upper School. He rapidly made a name for himself in the ballet world, garnering rave reviews from critics for his portrayals in Don Quixote and Les Patineurs. Sambé’s dance awards include a silver medal at the Moscow International ballet competition, first prize at the Youth American Grand Prix and a gold medal at the USA International ballet competition.

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Selection process

Due to Covid-19, no European Young Leaders class will be selected for 2021. Application for the class of 2022 will open in the spring of 2021.

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 to EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, North 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.

*references to Kosovo in this document are used without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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