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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 Malcolm Byrne
Malcolm Byrne

Irish Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel, 2014 European Young Leader

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Malcolm is an Irish politician for the centrist Fianna Fáil party and currently serves as a Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel of the Irish Parliament. Malcolm formerly served as a member of the lower house for the Wexford constituency from 2019 to 2020, prior to which he was a member of Wexford Country County Council from 2009 to 2019 and Mayor of Gorey. Additionally, Malcolm was the Head of Communications and Public Affairs with the Higher Education Authority, the statutory agency in Ireland that allocates public funding to higher education and advises government on higher education and research policy. Having worked for various lobbying and representative organisations throughout his career, Malcolm was also the first commercial manager with myhome.ie, Ireland’s most successful property website. Outside of his professional career, Malcolm has completed over 30 marathons.

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) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Jens Ole Bach Hansen
Jens Ole Bach Hansen

Counsellor, Africa and development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Photo of Juhan Lepassaar
Juhan Lepassaar

Executive Director of the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Juhan currently serves as the Executive Director of ENISA, the EU agency for cybersecurity. He has an extensive background working with and within the European Union, having previously worked for the European Commission for six years in various roles, including as the head of cabinet of former vice-president Andrus Ansip. In this capacity, he coordinated preparations and negotiations for the Cybersecurity Act. He has also served as a member of cabinet for former vice-president Siim Kallas. Juhan started his career in EU affairs at the Estonian Government Office, where he led the national EU coordination system as the director for five years and also served as an EU advisor to the prime minister. Notably, Juhan conducted the high-level negotiations for the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and participated in the EU’s response to the international financial crisis and subsequent reform of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

Antonia Meszaros
Antonia Meszaros

Managing Director United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Before becoming Executive Director of UNICEF Hungary in 2017, Antonia was a well-known Hungarian journalist, television presenter, author and documentary filmmaker. She has interviewed just about every EU politician that visited Hungary in recent years. She hosted Hungary’s main evening current affairs programme from 2007 to 2011, but was forced to leave the national public broadcaster MTV, along with thousands of colleagues after the new government “reorganised” public broadcasting and has been working at ATV, an independent news channel ever since. Antonia has participated in charitable projects and literacy campaigns aimed at helping the Roma population. For the last few years she has also been asked to head a Hungarian foundation recognising and rewarding journalistic achievements and organising events and workshops for media professionals. She is an English Literature graduate from ELTE University in Budapest.

Blazej Moder
Blazej Moder

Managing Director of EC1 Lodz – City of Culture and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Blazej is Managing Director of EC1 Lodz, a cultural hub which hosts cultural, educational and business events in Poland’s third largest city. It also houses three museums dedicated to science, the heritage of motion pictures and the phenomenon of comics and video games art. Blazej is an expert in project management, with over a decade’s worth of experience in project development, implementation and operation. He is the former managing director of the New Center of Lodz, a large urban redevelopment programme aimed at revitalising the area around the Lodz railway station to create a new multifunction city centre. He has also previously served in a number of key executive roles in various regional and local public utilities companies and business environment institutions. Blazej currently serves as an advisor to the Board for International Affairs of the Civil Development Forum.

João Rodrigo Pinho de Almeida
João Rodrigo Pinho de Almeida

Member, National Parliament of Portugal and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Joao is involved in the Parliamentary Committees of Budget, Finance and Public administration. Previously, Joao served as Secretary of State of Internal Administration of the Portuguese government. Joao currently represents the CDS-PP political party as spokesperson in the Parliament, having previously served as Secretary General and President of the People’s Part Youth division, of which he is still the Honorary President. Locally, he was member of the municipal assembly of Sao Joao da Madeira. With a sound legal background, Joao was a consultant at PROLEGAL – Moser & Lobo d’Avila and an attorney at Alves Mendes, Jardim Goncalves & Associates. He is also passionate about sports, being the Director and Chairman of the Board of the “os Belenenses” professional football team and sports club.

Michał Szczerba
Michał Szczerba

Member of Parliament, Sejm, Poland and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Michal is currently a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Polish Parliament and sits on the Justice and Human Rights Committee. Before he started working for the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, in 2007, he was the Representative of the Parliament to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and sat on the State Treasury Committee. Previously, Michal worked as an expert on EU funding for restructuring and modernising agriculture and was on the Wola District Council of Warsaw. In 2011, Michal received the Order of Honour from the President of the Republic of Georgia, and has been part of numerous leadership training programmes. He holds an MSc in Sociology from the University of Warsaw.

Photo of Irene Tinagli
Irene Tinagli

Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Irene Tinagli is an Italian economist and politician who has been serving in the European Parliament since 2019. Before coming to Brussels, Tinagli was a Member of the Italian Parliament, sitting on the Committee on Public and Private Employment and on the Committee on Infancy and Childhood. She also taught Management and Organisation Design at the Carlos III University in Madrid and worked as an expert for the European Commission on creativity and innovation. In Italy, Tinagli served as an advisor to the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Justice.

Florian Zinoecker
Florian Zinoecker

Head of Corporate Governance and Internal Policies at the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Florian Zinoecker

Florian is Head of the corporate governance and internal policies division at the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), where he is responsible for the preparation of decisions and meetings of the Board of Governors (eurozone finance ministers), Board of Directors and Board of Auditors. He has worked in economic and financial affairs in the areas of central banking and monetary policy in various capacities including at the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Central Bank (ECB). He has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, as well as a Master’s in Advanced European Studies from the University of Vienna.

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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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