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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.


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 Jamila Aanzi
Jamila Aanzi

Business economist, UN Women’s Representative, 2014 European Young Leader

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Jamila has positioned herself as one of the leading innovators in the fields of youth involvement and social outreach in the Netherlands. She has participated in numerous programmes aimed at encouraging cooperation between diverse backgrounds and envisioning a new social and political vision. In 2017, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, appointed Jamila as Dutch women’s representative at the United Nations. As a senior international trainer for the Max van der Stoel foundation she trains political parties and politicians in Eastern Europe, the Middle-East and North-Africa. Jamila is an alumni of several international leadership programs like the Israeli ‘future European leaders’ program and the US state department’s ‘international visitors leadership’ program.

Photo of Alberto Alemanno
Alberto Alemanno

Professor of EU Law, HEC Paris, Founder of The Good Lobby and 2014 European Young Leader

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Alberto is an academic, author and activist. He’s currently Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris and Global Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Due to his commitment to bridge the gap between academic research and policy action, Alberto pioneered innovative forms of civic engagement and campaigning in the EU transnational space via his civic start up The Good Lobby and his campaigns contributed to democratizing the EU. His last book, ‘Lobbying for Change: Find Your Voice to Create a Better Society’ provides a timely analysis and guide to levelling the democratic playing field by empowering ordinary citizens to speak up and inform policy decisions at local, national and international level. A Harvard graduate, he’s a regular contributor to Le Monde, Bloomberg, Politico Europe, Forbes, and Il Sole 24 Ore, and his scholarly and public interest work has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, the Financial Times as well Science and Nature. The World Economic Forum nominated him Young Global Leader in 2015.

Julien Berjeaut
Julien Berjeaut

Graphic artist & comic book author, 2014 European Young Leader

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Julien, known by his pseudonym Jul, is a French cartoonist and comic book author. He won third prize in the youth competition at the Angoulême comic book festival at the age of 12. He began his working life as a Professor of Chinese history, but then devoted himself entirely to comics. He has published cartoons in numerous newspapers and magazines including Les Échos, La Dépêche du Midi, Nouvel Observateur, and L’Humanité. His comic book series Silex and the City was adapted into a TV animation series and aired as of September 2012 on the franco-german channel Arte. He was appointed by the French government to the rank of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in September 2012.

Danae Bezantakou
Danae Bezantakou

Managing Director, Navigator Shipping LTD , 2014 European Young Leader

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Danae is the Managing director of Navigator Shipping Consultants LTD. One of her important achievements is the organisation of the Navigator Conference since 2001 which is considered to be one of the biggest shipping events gathering the decision makers of the shipping community and speakers from all over the world on an annual basis. Through her participation in lectures and seminars, Danae has travelled the world to promote and strengthen women’s entrepreneurship. Her latest venture includes the foundation of Greek Food Obsessions, a gourmet culinary company providing the Greek and international food market with high quality Greek gourmet products from all over Greece. Danae holds a Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of Surrey.

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Malcolm Byrne

Head of Communications at the Irish Higher Education Authority, 2014 European Young Leader

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Malcolm is Head of Communications with the Higher Education Authority, the Irish state agency that advises government on higher education and research and funds the higher education institutions. He is also a councillor and former mayor for the centrist Fianna Fail party. He has previously served as Vice-President of the National Youth Council of Ireland, as Education Officer with the Union of Students in Ireland, as an Executive member of the European Students Union and as Youth Spokesperson for the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. He previously worked as commercial manager of myhome.ie, Ireland’s most successful property website and as chief executive of a national children’s organisation. A graduate in law and arbitration from University College Dublin, Malcolm is currently completing a Doctorate in Governance at Queen’s University Belfast. He has completed 26 marathons.

Jasmina Cibic
Jasmina Cibic

Artist, 2014 European Young Leader

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Jasmina works across a range of media including photography, performance, installation and video. Most often characterised as a visual artist, her artwork is focused on the positioning and analysing of space vis-à-vis other societal categories. She is the author of numerous exhibitions which have been shown all over Europe, as well as the recipient of prestigious Slovenian, European and international awards, including the Bevilacqua la Masa (Venice 2002 and 2005), the Slovenian Trend Award for Outstanding Achievements in Visual Art (2011), and the Catlin Commission Award (London, 2011). She represented Slovenia at the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

Tishani Doshi
Tishani Doshi

Poet, Writer & Dancer, 2014 European Young Leader

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Tishani is an Indian-Welsh dancer, poet and freelance writer. Currently based in Madras, India, Tishani divides her time between dancing for one of India’s leading choreographers, Chandralekha, and writing pieces for publications such as The Guardian, Corriere della Sera, The New York Times, The Hindu, The National, India Today, Outlook, Tricycle, Vogue and Elle. Her written work has garnered her various awards such as the prestigious Forward Prize (UK) for Best First Collection (2006) for her debut collection of poems, and she was selected to represent India at the 2012 Poetry Parnassus Cultural Olympics in London. Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers, was published to critical acclaim in 2010, and has been translated into multiple languages. Her latest book is a collection of poems, Everything Begins Elsewhere, and has been published in India, the UK and the USA.

Henrik Enderlein
Henrik Enderlein

Director of the Jacques Delors Institute, 2014 European Young Leader

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Henrik is Professor of Political Economy at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. His research is on economic policy-making, European monetary integration, fiscal federalism, financial markets and financial crises. In 2003, Henrik was awarded the Max Planck Society’s Otto-Hahn Medal for outstanding achievements by young scientists and from 2006 to 2007, he was Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Duke University’s Political Science Department. He holds degrees from Sciences Po, Paris, the University of Bremen and Columbia University. He prepared his PhD in Political Science at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. Henrik has just returned from a year as Pierre Keller Visiting Professor at Harvard Kennedy School and the Weatherhead Center of International Affairs.

Adriano Farano
Adriano Farano

Co-founder & CEO at Watchup, 2014 European Young Leader

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Adriano is the CEO and Co-founder of Watchup, a Silicon Valley-based start-up that brings the power of video journalism to the post-PC era with an Apple app that lets you build your daily newscast out of the world’s most trusted news channels. He is a former EiR at StartX, the Stanford student start-up accelerator. Previously, he co-founded and ran from 2001 to 2009 Cafebabel.com, a pan-European online media outlet entirely translated in 6 languages that has thousands of contributors. In 2007, he was selected as a young leader in the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Adriano is a Political Science and International Relations graduate from LUISS University in Rome.

Jorge Juan Fernandez Garcia
Jorge Juan Fernandez Garcia

Director of Innovation, European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), 2014 European Young Leader

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Jorge Juan Fernández García is EIT Health’s Director of Innovation, where he plays a vital role in shaping the wide range of Innovation Projects that the organisation develops and supports. Before joining EIT Health, Jorge was Director of E-Health within the Innovation Department at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona – one of the most relevant examples in Europe where a healthcare provider is using online care, telemedicine, mobile apps and health 2.0 tools to put the patient in the centre of care – and Director of Moebio, an initiative to develop healthcare entrepreneurs and future leaders in healthcare. Jorge has more than 18 years of experience in healthcare and life sciences, the last eight years fully dedicated to innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, at the intersection of business, government, and academia. He regularly acts as advisor and mentor to various healthcare start-ups and entrepreneurial acceleration programs, where he helps create a stronger ecosystem in the biomedical and healthcare industries.

Pavla Gomba
Pavla Gomba

Executive Director of United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 2014 European Young Leader

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Pavla is the Executive director of UNICEF in the Czech Republic. Under her leadership, the Czech UNICEF has become not only a strong advocate for children’s rights, but also a leading fundraising organisation, with a contribution rate of 82 (the 3rd highest in the worldwide network), emerging from a recipient of international funding to the net donor to the international causes – an experience that is now viewed as an inspiration for the new business model of UNICEF in middle-income countries. Pavla has extensive experience of missions in developing countries, ranging from the areas hit by natural disasters and post-conflict countries to the countries struggling with high poverty rates and social inequalities. Pavla is also a member of the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting to which she was elected by the Czech Parliament. She is currently carrying out a PhD at the Technical University of Ostrava, focusing on international security and terrorism and she holds an MSc in Finance from the University of Economics, Prague.

Soulaima Gourani
Soulaima Gourani

Keynote speaker, author and advisor, 2014 European Young Leader

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Soulaima is a speaker, consultant, author, blogger and an active board member in several public and private companies. It is her vision to change the world to a better more tolerant place through trade and business, and relations between countries and people. She spends part of her time and own money travelling around the world to do “impact journeys”. The past year she has been to Mexico, UAE, India, Jordan, Myanmar and China to work with local entrepreneurs, young global leaders, local schools, change makers and NGOs. Since 2007, she has worked as an advisor and speaker for more than 1000 clients. She has received several prestigious awards among others the Rising Star, the Talent 100 price 2004, PowerWomen, 20 Greatest Nordic Thinkers. Soulaima holds an E-MBA from the Copenhagen Business School.

Photo of Ben Hammersley
Ben Hammersley

Internet Technologist, Journalist & Author, 2014 European Young Leader

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Ben is a British writer and technologist, specialising in the effects of the internet and the ubiquitous digital network on the worldʼs political, cultural and social spheres. He enjoys an international career as a speaker, explaining complex technological and sociological topics to lay audiences and as a high-level advisor on these matters to governments and business. He is currently a Robert Schuman fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, an Innovator in Residence at the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies at Goldsmiths, University of London, a non-resident fellow of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C., a member of the European Commission High Level Group on Media Freedom and contributing editor of the UK edition of WIRED magazine. He is the accredited inventor of the word “Podcast”, published in The Guardian (2004).

Jens Ole Bach Hansen
Jens Ole Bach Hansen

Counsellor, Africa and development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2014 European Young Leader

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Jens is Counsellor at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to his current role, He was posted at the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations in New York, in charge of Danish relations and strategic interventions with the UN Development System. Having worked and studied in the United States, France, Palestine, Israel, Denmark and Jordan, Jens Ole defines himself as “a dedicated internationalist and multi-lateralist”. Following 10 years of experience in international relations, he is now focused on the changing international architecture and the role of the United Nations in addressing global challenges. Jens Ole is a graduate in International affairs from the dual degree programme between Columbia University and Sciences Po, Paris and a BA in Public administration from Roskilde University.

Christel Heydemann
Christel Heydemann

Executive Vice-President of Human Resources and Transformation, Alcatel-Lucent, 2014 European Young Leader

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Christel is Executive Vice-President of Human Resources and Transformation at Alcatel-Lucent and Member of the Executive Management Committee. Christel began her career at The Boston Consulting Group in Paris and joined Alcatel in 1999 on the Project Finance team of the Chief Financial Officer and has made her way up the ladder progressively and successfully ever since. She is also President of Fondation Azaria, created in 1940 to support employees facing personal difficulties. Christel was selected in 2012 as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and as a Rising Talent by the Women’s forum. Christel is a graduate of the French Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.

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Insights

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Selection process

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 towards EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, 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.

The deadline for nominations and applications for the 2020 European Young Leaders class has passed. We are currently reviewing the candidates and aim to announce the 2020 class before the end of 2019. We will open the application and nomination period for the class of 2021 in the spring of 2020.

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