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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 2020-2021 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

Alexander Betts
Alexander Betts

Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at the University of Oxford and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Photo of Thomas Dermine
Thomas Dermine

Belgian State Secretary for Scientific Policy, Recovery Programme and Strategic Investments and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Paolo Giordano
Paolo Giordano

Bestselling Author, Theoretical Physicist and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Ivan Lesay
Ivan Lesay

Co-Founder and CEO of Slovak Investment Holding, Civil Servant and Fiction Writer and 2020-2021 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.

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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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