Samir Abdelkrim is not only a French entrepreneur but also an author and a tech reporter. Passionate about all things digital, he founded EMERGING Valley as an international summit on African innovation to connect tech start-ups with investors, thinkers and decision-makers across continents. He also leads StartupBRICS, a company that provides insights on entrepreneurship in emerging economies. Abdelkrim is a former chronicler on African tech entrepreneurs for Le Monde and has also featured in the Huffington Post, Le Point and Les Echos. His book, “Startup Lions”, chronicles his experience travelling the African continent in search of the most interesting and innovative tech start-ups. With French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative “Summit of the Two Shores of the Mediterranean”, Abdelkrim was amongst 10 selected to make proposals to relaunch European and Mediterranean cooperation.
Ten years ago, motivated by the urgent need to tackle the increasing disconnect between citizens and policymakers, and to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies, Friends of Europe crafted a leadership programme unlike any other: the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme. To celebrate the programme’s anniversary, we travelled through the past ten years to share ten inspiring stories.
Our anniversary celebration features volleyball player Valentina Diouf; Rokhaya Diallo, a journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist; Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange; renowned chef Eneko Atxa; serial entrepreneur Ivan Stefunko; bionic pop artist and futurist, Viktoria Modesta; Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas; Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, CEO and Founder of Women’s WorldWide Web (W4); Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Bastian Obermayer; and Qëndron Kastrati, former mayor of Kamenica, Kosovo. Click here to learn more about our selection amongst 350+ wonderful profiles.
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, and citizens can collaborate and drive 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. Together, their passion, diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and innovative thinking create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.
Our European leaders are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs and astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by local and multilateral institutions, traditional political frameworks or bureaucracy. They provide alternative perspectives to EU decision-makers and challenge the status quo.
They help take Europe out of Brussels. In their own countries, cities and communities, the European Young Leaders also play an essential role in reconnecting people with and rebuilding trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole-of-economy, whole-of-society approach to progress more quickly. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and helping 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: supporting the green and digital transformation, strengthening our democracy, improving relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing and building a more diverse Europe.
Succeeding in these policies and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.
Tune in to the EYL40s on Friends of Europe’s podcasts
Leading viewThe Frankly Speaking Podcast - Iran: Unchallenged, till now
Leading viewEpisode 12. Frankly Speaking Podcast Series: Special Focus Russian invasion of Ukraine
Leading viewEverything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!
Leading viewJoss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?
Leading viewUna Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change
Meet the EYL40
Charles-Pierre is Chief Technology Officer at Premier Voisin, a company he co-founded. Previously, he worked as advisor on regulations and digital commons to the French Minister of State for Digital Transition and Affairs. He also served as director in charge of the project ‘Vaccination Information Systems” at the French Ministry of Health and Solidarity. He is a French engineer and cybersecurity specialist leading the organisation that advises the French government on digital matters. Previously, seeking to combine his technical skills with public service, Charles-Pierre worked at the French National Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI), where he was tasked with finding offensive viruses, tracing their source, and identifying contaminated computers to neutralise the threat. Charles-Pierre’s diverse career also includes his supervision of the deployment of an electric vehicle (EV) fleet in the United States and co-authoring a book on 3D printing.
Anne founded ReDI School, a vocational training programme that teaches programming and tech skills to migrants and seeks to fill vacancies in the German IT job market. With five schools throughout Germany and Denmark, ReDI hosts 1,000 students per semester, 65% of which are women and girls. She also founded the Berlin Peace Innovation Lab, which focuses on technology’s role in facilitating emerging and measurable social change towards global peace. Prior to this, Anne spent two years in Japan, researching open social innovation, and received the prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship. She previously worked as a corporate social responsibility consultant, during which time Anne developed and implemented Samsung Electronics’ award-winning corporate social responsibility strategy for Scandinavia.
Alexander Betts is a Professor of Forced and International Affairs at the University of Oxford, where is also the Associate Head of the Social Sciences and a Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College. His research examines the political economy of refugee assistance, with a focus on Africa. Alexander also currently leads the IKEA Foundation-funded Refugee Economies Programme, which undertakes participatory research on the economic lives of refugees in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Prior to this, he served as director of the Refugees Studies Centre. Alexander has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian and is the author of “The Wealth of Refugees: How Displaced People Can Build Economies”, which explores policy solutions for the contemporary global refugee crisis.
Velibor is a Montenegrin economist, who was appointed by the Government of Montenegro to serve as the Managing Director of Montenegro’s first science and technology park and one of its most significant scientific research and innovation projects. He also serves as the President of the Center for Development and Entrepreneurial Society. With extensive experience in both the private and public sectors, Velibor’s career has focused on development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and enhancing SMEs in Montenegro. Before taking up his current post, he was the general director of FK Budućnost, Montenegro’s biggest football club. He has also served as director of Montenegro’s first business incubator, ‘Inventivnost’, and as director at an entrepreneurship and innovation centre, ‘Technopolis’, where he remains as President of the Board. Additionally, Velibor has co-founded two private companies, one of which works in economic consultancy and one of which operates within the pharmaceutical industry.
Fjoralba is the former Albanian minister for justice covering European integration and anti-corruption policies. Having started her career as an academic teaching EU Law, she has maintained an ongoing cooperation with civil society organisations. She also served as a lawyer on issues related to strategic litigation and offered legal aid for people in need and for marginalised communities. In addition, she has led projects focusing on youth and national anti-corruption campaigns, including “Fighting Corruption in the Higher Education System” and “Bookworm Project – outdoors mini-library”.
Prior to her current position, Mila served as Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of North Macedonia as well as Deputy Prime Minister responsible for economic affairs during the transition Government in 2020. She was elected to government in 2017. Mila is an avid proponent of human rights whose professional career to date has been marked by a commitment to social work on behalf of the most vulnerable and threatened citizens, whether it be Roma, disadvantaged youth, drug addicts or victims of domestic violence. Projects she has managed over the years include organising drama workshops with children housed in institutions, hosting educational workshops, offering consultations for drug users and their families, and conducting field research. Mila has used her platform as Minister to advocate for gender equality, the elimination of violence against women, and anti-discrimination.
Matthew is a renowned Maltese journalist and software engineer with a distinguished career that spans over a decade. Having previously worked for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), he co-founded the organisation’s Data & Research Unit in 2014 and was a lead engineer on six major investigations, namely Offshore Leaks, Swiss Leaks, Luxembourg Leaks, Fatal Extraction, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. The Unit’s core work on the Panama Papers notably won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2017. He left the organisation in 2018 to continue working on the case around the assassination of his mother, Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Armin founded Youth Power, an influential Bosnian NGO which pushes for non-violence, human rights and tolerance in the country. The inspirational work he did on Program Y led to the inclusion of gender-based violence prevention in school curricula. Coming from a region that has historically suffered from religious violence, Armin has championed the need for more inter-faith dialogue. He has also brought his message directly to citizens, providing lessons to prevent alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and violence in schools.
Thomas was appointed Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investment, with responsibility for scientific policy, in the Belgian government in 2020. Prior to his current role, he was well-known for heading l’Institut Emile Vandervelde, a research centre for the francophone Socialist Party (PS). Thomas has extensive experience in the Belgian political environment, having also served as the right hand and chief of staff to Paul Magnette, Chairman of the PS. In addition to his political work, Thomas previously held a managing role at CATCH, a public start-up aimed at coordinating and accelerating local projects in and around Charleroi, an economically modest area in Belgium. Thomas is also an affiliate of the Harvard Government Performance Lab where he leads research on Social Impact and a lecturer at Université Libre de Bruxelles.
Agnesta is a Lithuanian image and executive specialist with extensive knowledge of the creative industry and public advocacy. She was the head of Lithuania’s annual Vilnius International Film Festival (VIFF) ‘Kino Pavasaris’, one of the biggest film festivals in the Baltic States. In 2019, VIFF screened around 170 films in 17 cities, 34% of which were made by women directors. Agnesta’s long career in the cultural environmental also extends to the role of coordinator at the European Commission’s 2007 MEDIA programme office in Lithuania, as well as a number of cultural projects, including the Latin American culture festival ‘In Latino’ and the educational cinema project for youths ‘Cine Book’ in Lithuania.
Jasna Gabric is the mayor of Trbovlje, a former mining town in Slovenia. A member of the municipal council since the age of 25, she was the youngest Slovenian mayor when elected. Unemployment in her town has fallen by almost half thanks to her role in implementing a successful incubator for start-ups. Her effort also focussed on reforming the municipality to make it more efficient and responsive. These achievements have received widespread recognition, in particular from the City Mayors Foundation which named her Mayor of Distinction. She is seen as a role model for young female politicians.
Moha is a Spanish journalist and anti-racism activist. Prior to his current roles at Vogue Spain and La Hora de La 1, he wrote for eldiario.es, a leading online newspaper in Spain, contributing op-eds and video content on issues related to race and discrimination. Moha served as president of SOS Racismo Madrid, a prominent organisation that seeks to combat racism and xenophobia. Additionally, Moha is active on the speaker circuit and is a lecturer at the University of Syracuse and the University of Stanford’s campuses in Madrid. Known for utilising both print and multimedia content to advance his message, Moha is the creator of the audio-visual monologue, “How my life would be if I were a black character in a movie”, and one of the authors of the book, “Lost in Media: Migrant Perspectives and the Public Sphere”.
Paolo is an award-winning Italian writer and theoretical physicist. His first novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, is a critically acclaimed worldwide bestseller, selling over a million copies and being translated into thirty languages. It also received an equally successful cinematic adaptation. Paolo also wrote the critically acclaimed The Human Body and Like Family. He has been widely recognised for his work and was the youngest winner ever of Italy’s most prestigious literary award, the Strega Prize, as well as the Premio Campiello, a highly competitive annual prize.
Karoli is an Estonian entrepreneur and creator of Jobbatical, a forward-looking global mobility company. 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 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 recognition from prestigious organisations, including EU-Startups and the European Council. She was also nominated as speaker of the 2017 Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women International Summit. Thanks to her influence, she also led the launch of seven television channels in Northern Europe, including National Geographic Channels and MTV.
APPLICATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2023 ARE NOW CLOSED.
NOMINATIONS FOR UKRAINIAN NATIONALS* ARE OPEN UNTIL 24 JUNE 2022
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 a new generation of European leaders from all over the continent and various 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 to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders.
- Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1983).
- 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 of the two EYL seminars during the programme year.
Please click HERE for the detailed Selection Guidelines 2023.
Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
*The current crisis has prompted us to open up the programme to Ukraine as a pilot initiative. In future years we hope to find a way of including more people who are not EU nationals/citizens but are contributing positively to current Europe (e.g., candidates from our neighbourhood countries and refugees).
**References to Kosovo here 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.
- Area of Expertise
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability