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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

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

Photo of Inés Arrimadas García
Inés Arrimadas García

Leader of the Citizens Party in the Spanish Parliament and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Inés Arrimadas García serves as a Member of the Spanish parliament and is the Leader and Spokesperson of the Citizens (“Ciudadanos”) party. As a former member of the Parliament of Catalonia, Inés sat on the Committee of Business and Employment, focusing on socio-economic issues including unemployment and inequality, and went on to become the leader of the opposition. Under her leadership, the Citizens party became a major contender and won a majority in the Catalonian parliament. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was named among the Young European of the Year category by the Liberal Democrat Local and Regional Politicians (LeaDeR) Awards. Inés started her career in the private sector, working for a consulting firm, which specialised in EU-funded project management related to territorial development and service management. She was also previously responsible for quality and administration management in a group of companies in the petrochemical sector.

Photo of Kirsten Brosbøl
Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kirsten is the CEO of 2030beyond, a do-tank which she established to accelerate action on 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, she founded the Parliamentarians for the Global Goals initiative, a global network of parliamentarians committed to the 2030 Agenda. Kirsten formerly served as the Danish minister of environment and a member of the Danish parliament, during which time she founded and chaired the All-Party Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a German Marshall Fellow and former Obama Foundation scholar at Columbia University.

Carole Dieschbourg
Carole Dieschbourg

Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, Luxembourg and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Carole Dieschbourg served as a municipal councillor in Echternach from 2011 to 2013, when she was appointed to the government as Minister of the Environment. At the time she was the youngest member of the cabinet and the only Green Minister of the Environment in Europe. Carole represented the European Union during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, which coincided with Luxembourg’s Presidency of the EU Council. Her role was to ensure that the EU had a coordinated position during the conference. In the run-up to the COP21, she also represented the EU at many bilateral meetings and high-level conferences such as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue and the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF).

Photo of Muna Duzdar
Muna Duzdar

Member of the National Council for the Social Democratic Party & Spokesperson for Eenergy and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A lawyer by training, Muna is passionate about politics. During her studies, she was the international secretary of Socialist Youth Austria and worked for the French Socialist Party. After graduation, she became a local councillor in the Vienna-Donaustadt district at the age of 23. In 2010, she joined the Austrian Federal Council where she became the Social Democrat spokesperson on foreign policy. Six years later, she was nominated as Secretary of State in the Office of the Federal Chancellery. Muna is also the President of the Palestinian-Austrian Society, a group that aims to deepen exchanges between Austrians and Palestinians and play an active part in Austrian society by promoting anti-racist, democratic and transnational programmes.

Colum Eastwood
Colum Eastwood

Leader of the Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP) and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Colum Eastwood

Colum is an Irish politician, who has been at the heart of the post-conflict success in Derry, the second largest city in Northern Ireland. He is currently the Leader of the SDLP and a member of the British parliament. Colum previously served as a member of parliament in the Norther Ireland Assembly, during which time he was appointed SDLP representative on the committee overseeing the work of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. He also sat on the Standards and Privileges and the Environment committees. Colum was elected Mayor of Derry at age 27, making him the youngest mayor to serve the city to date, prior to which he was on the Derry City Council. Throughout his career, Colum has championed Derry as a city of culture and continuously stood against dissident republican violence, calling for an end to terrorist activities by armed groups.

Aaron Farrugia
Aaron Farrugia

Maltese Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Aaron Farrugia

Aaron was elected to the Maltese Parliament in June of 2017, and appointed Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and Social Dialogue within the Ministry for European Affairs. Before his current position, Aaron ran the Malta Freeport, the first transhipment hub in the Mediterranean. He served as president of the Labour Youth Forum and was elected deputy mayor of Ta’ Xbiex in 2005. During the international financial crisis, he was appointed to a team of economic experts set up by the Young European Socialists and was elected as Education Secretary in the Maltese Labour Party’s Central Administration. Aaron also chaired the progressive think tank IDEAT, the party’s political foundation. In 2014, he founded the Anton Buttigieg Foundation, which seeks to promote social awareness in Malta, focusing on education as the primary tool for economic and social development.

Photo of Kaja Kallas
Kaja Kallas

Prime Minister of Estonia and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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As of January 2021, Kaja Kallas is Estonia’s first female Prime Minister. A competition lawyer by profession, Kaja was elected Member of the Estonian Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Economic Affairs in 2011. After being elected to the European Parliament in 2014, she became a prominent proponent of innovation and frequently emphasised that regulations should not hinder the technological revolution. She authored five reports in the European Parliament, including of an own-initiative report on the Digital Single Market. Kaja left the European sphere in 2018 to become leader of Estonia’s Liberal Reform Party.

Photo of Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica

Parliamentary Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica

Zanda is a Latvian politician and serves as the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. Her role is to ensure cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Latvian Parliament and the European Parliament. She also represents the Latvian government at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings of development and trade ministers. Zanda also currently chairs the Consultative Board for Development Cooperation Policy of Latvia and sits on the board of European Movement – Latvia, a non-profit organisation. She previously served as a member of the Latvian parliament and chaired the Committee on European Affairs Committee and the Innovation and Research Subcommittee during her mandate. Zanda started her professional career at Jurmala’s city council and then went on to work at the Strategic Analysis Commission of the President of Latvia, where she served as an advisor to the president.

Julia Obermeier
Julia Obermeier

Resident Representative of the Hanns Seidel Foundation and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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As the Resident Representative at the political research foundation associated with the Christian Social Union (CSU), Julia works on projects related to strengthening civil society, civic involvement and the rule of law, among other topics, in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Prior to her current role, Julia was elected and served as a member of the German federal parliament at the age of 29. Her political work focused on defence and security policies as a member of the Committee on Defence, which played an important part in the adoption of the defence budget and the procurement of materiel for the armed forces. Julia started her career as a lecturer at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich before joining the office of the CSU, where she held several political positions at the local level. As a member of the CSU policy committee, she played an important role in drafting the new party manifesto.

Sébastien Pilard
Sébastien Pilard

Member, Pays de la Loire Regional Council and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Sébastien Pilard

Sébastien is a young businessman and entrepreneur. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Terminal du Grand Ouest (TGO), a port operations company in the Nantes-Saint Nazaire port area that covers bulk, container and general cargo activities. He manages a team of more than 150 employees at TGO. Sébastien was former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s special representative on the economy and business during his campaign to win the Republican nomination for the 2017 presidential election. Sébastien is regional councillor in the Pays de la Loire region and will be an official candidate of the Republicans party in the upcoming 2017 legislative elections. He is also the co-founder of Sens Commun, a right-wing youth movement that defends conservative family values.

Virginia Raggi
Virginia Raggi

Mayor, City of Rome and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Virginia Raggi

Virginia is the first woman to become mayor of Rome after winning the 2016 municipal election with two-thirds of the vote. She is considered as a rising star of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), a party that she joined in 2011, two years before being elected to Rome’s city council. Called a talented debated by the Economist, Virginia vowed to end corruption, introduce a new level of transparency to the Roman government and revamp the city’s failing infrastructure. Virginia fiercely campaigned against the proposed amendment to the Italian constitution in the run-up to the 2016 constitutional referendum. A lawyer by training, she specialises in intellectual property and new technology.

Cezary Tomczyk
Cezary Tomczyk

Member of Parliament, Poland and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Cezary Tomczyk

Cezary began his political career on Sieradz’s city council in 2006. One year later, he was elected as a Member of the Polish Parliament at the age of 23. He sat in the Committee on National Defence and the Committee on EU Affairs in addition to chairing the Permanent Subcommittee on the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020. In 2010, he was awarded the Medal of Merit for National Defence by the Polish Minister of National Defence in recognition of his services to the development and strengthening of the defence of his country. In 2015, he was appointed as a Secretary of State and spokesperson in the government of Ewa Kopacz. After the 2015 parliamentary elections, he was nominated as shadow Deputy Minister of National Defence for the Civic Platform.

Ozan Yanar
Ozan Yanar

Green City Counsellor in Helsinki, former Member of the National Parliament of Finland and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Ozan Yanar

Ozan serves as City Councillor and Board Member of the Helsinki City Council and Vice Chairman of the Economic Development Sub-Committee. As a green politician and future economist, he is very interested in the future of work and green economic growth. At the age of 27, he was elected as a Member of the Finnish Parliament and in the past parliamentary term he advocated for social equality and the fight against discrimination. Ozan has worked at the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions, the Labour Institute for Economic Research and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Ozan has also served as the Co-Chair of the Federation of Green Youth and in 2017 he was on the 30 Under 30 list of Forbes.

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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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