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

Riccardo Lattanzi
Riccardo Lattanzi

Associate Professor of Radiology, Electrical and Computer Engineering at New York University (NYU) and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Riccardo is a biomedical scientist, whose work lies at the intersection of physics, engineering and medicine. His research investigates the interactions of electromagnetic fields with biological tissue in order to develop new technologies to improve the diagnostic power of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). He has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers. Riccardo also serves as the Director of Training of the NYU Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research (CAI²R). His various honours and awards include the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) I.I. Rabi Young Investigator Award, a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award, and a Fulbright Scholarship.

Sandor Lederer
Sandor Lederer

Co-Founder and CEO of K-Monitor and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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

Founder and President of UNITE, Member of the Portuguese National Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ricardo is best known as a Member of the Portuguese Parliament where he currently serves as a member of the committee on health. He also founded the UNITE global network of parliamentarians committed to achieving political impact towards ending infectious diseases as a global health threat. He is 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.

Sander Loones
Sander Loones

Member of the Belgian Federal Parliament, former Member of the European Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Sander is a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. He was formerly a Member of the European Parliament with the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and Vice President of Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (The New Flemish Alliance). In the European Parliament, Sander was 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.

Photo of Eva Maydell (née Paunova)
Eva Maydell (née Paunova)

President of the European Movement International, Member of the European Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Eva Maydell (née Paunova)

Eva Maydell’s priorities focus on enhancing skills-creation and the use of innovation and technologies, supporting entrepreneurs and investments in Europe. In the European Parliament, she is a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy as well as the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. She is also a member of the Delegation for relations with Japan as well as the Delegation for relations with the US.

Eva is among the most active members of the European Parliament. Currently, she is EPP rapporteur on the Data Strategy. She was the main Parliament rapporteur on the Regulation on charges on cross-border payments as well as worked on several legislative files, part of the Digital Single Market Strategy – the e-Privacy Regulation, the Directive for the supply of digital content, the Regulation on portability, Digitising European industry and the European cloud initiative. She was also rapporteur for the EPP Group on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the New Skills Agenda and the Influence of technology on the future of the financial sector (FinTech).

Eva has been awarded the European Parliament’s MEP of the Year Award twice. She has also been
included in FT’s own ‘New Europe 100′ ranking of CEE’s emerging change-makers, European Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and others.

Frédéric Mazzella
Frédéric Mazzella

Founder and President of BlaBlaCar and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Frédéric is the Founder and President of BlaBlaCar, the leading European ridesharing community that connects drivers with empty seats and people travelling in the same direction, with the aim of making road travel social, cost effective and sustainable. The carpooling platform became the first French unicorn and has grown into a global community, with over 20 million members in 22 countries. Frédéric also currently serves as the Co-President Entrepreneur of France Digitale, the largest start-up association in Europe, where is work largely focuses on talent, impact and European tech sovereignty. Prior to founding BlaBlaCar, Frédéric was a scientific research at the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) in Japan. Frédéric is a regular speaker at international conferences and in the media, including CNN, Bloomberg and CNBC, on the themes 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 and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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 and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Photo of Michael Printzos
Michael Printzos

Director of Programming at the Hellenic Initiative and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Michael has over 15 years of experience in the commercialisation of R&D results, innovation consultation and non-profit management, having worked for several companies and organisations across the globe and participated as a trainer and speaker at conferences on philanthropy and the concept of giving. He currently serves as the Director of Programming at The Hellenic Initiative, a global, non-profit and secular institution which aims to mobilise support and investment for sustainable economic renewal in Greece. He has overseen the Hellenic Initiative’s philanthropic work since the institution’s founding, having managed over $16.5mn in support of the future of Greece. Michael is also the co-owner of Green Systems, an engineering procurement and construction company in Athens, and Brainomix, a start-up company that develops medical imaging software to assess the eligibility of acute stroke patients for life saving treatment. He serves as a committee member of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, dedicated to achieving Greek competitiveness through properly informing and adequately motivating business employees.

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Shazia Saleem

Founder, ieat foods and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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

Vice-Governor of the Province of Utrecht and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Hanke is a former military officer, currently serving as the Deputy for Nature, Agriculture, Soil and Water, Sports and Governance at the Province of Utrecht. As a member of the Dutch parliament, Hanke served as the Christian Democratic Appeal party’s spokesperson on health and defence issues, while also focusing on local government, medical law, psychiatry and sports. Prior to her career in politics, Hanke attended the Dutch Royal Military Academy (KMA), where she undertook officer training and specialised as an artillery commander. She went on to serve in Afghanistan as a tank platoon commander, where she was promoted to acting field officer, assisting the Director of Operations of the Land Forces Command Staff. She has also worked in the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations as a senior policy officer and is avid hockey player, who won the Rabobank Premier Division national indoor hockey championship in 2005.

Ivan Štefunko
Ivan Štefunko

Founding Chairman of Progresívne Slovensko, Consultant in Innovation Policies and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Ivan Štefunko

Ivan has extensive experience in technology, media and the Internet as a serial entrepreneur and angel investor in the Slovakian venture capital industry. Ivan co-founded Progresívne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia), a social-liberal and pro-European political movement, becoming the party’s first chairman and currently serving as Vice Chairman. Prior to this, Ivan co-founded Neulogy Ventures, a management company which invests public and private funds in early stage tech companies, and Neulogy, a Bratislava-based consultancy boutique specialising in R&D management, technology commercialisation and start-up consultation. He has also been at the helm of a number of start-up companies with global or regional reach, including Diagnose.me, Pelicantravel.com, Piano Media and GA Drilling.

Sonja Steßl
Sonja Steßl

former Austrian state secretary at the Federal Chancellery, Board Member of the Wiener Städtische Versicherung and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Before her current appointment, Sonja worked at the Vienna Insurance Group AG amongst others as their regional director in Styria after having joined the private sector in 2016. Prior to this, she served as Austria’s State Secretary for Public Administration as well as State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance. Sonja has also been Deputy Chairwoman of the SPÖ Regional Party Committee in south-east Styria, Member of the Women’s Federal Executive Committee of the SPÖ and Chairwoman of Volkshilfe social services in Feldbach. In addition to this, she has been Chairwoman of the Nomination Committee of the Austrian State and Industrial Holding Ltd (ÖBIB). Sonja was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 2009, and concurrently taught business law at the KMU-Academy & Management in Linz.

Photo of Kamilla Sultanova
Kamilla Sultanova

Owner, ConnectUz and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kamilla is a bridge-builder and a solopreneur based in Helsinki. She has had a successful sales career in Scandinavian shipping companies including Maersk Line, where she was in charge of a global sales strategy execution in more than 20 markets spanning Eastern Europe, Nordics and Middle East. A gifted adviser and passionate advocate, Kamilla has done over 10 years’ worth of activist work in influencing debates, policies and practices in the field of gender equality, inclusion, empowerment and cross-cultural dialogue in the Nordics and the EU. 

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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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