About

This year’s EYL40 Class of 2023 includes award-winning investigative journalists, a mega-star of modern-day football, politicians from all levels of government and speakers of national parliaments, a male supermodel and philanthropist, renowned scholars, innovators leading the green digital transition, as well as creative tech-based healthcare professionals. Follow along as we reveal the new class on LinkedIn and Twitter from 31 January to 10 February!


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

Frankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now

Leading view

Frankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now

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Frankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans

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Frankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans

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Everything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!

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Everything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!

Jane Burston

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Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

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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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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

Karoli Hindriks
Karoli Hindriks

Founder and CEO of Jobbatical and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Photo of Klen Jäärats
Klen Jäärats

Director for EU Affairs at the Office of the Prime Minister of Estonia and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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As Director of the EU Secretariat in the Estonian government, Klen coordinates and develops all EU policy and acts as the chief European affairs adviser to the Prime Minister. A career civil servant, Klen started out in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, rising quickly to the position of Head of the Refugees Department. In this capacity, he dealt with a variety of NGOs and international organisations including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He later moved to Brussels where he spent six years working at the Estonian Permanent Representation to the EU during which time he dealt with many issues related to the preparation, ratification and implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Photo of Kaja Kallas
Kaja Kallas

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

Show more information on Kaja Kallas

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.

Kristel Kruustuk
Kristel Kruustuk

Co-Founder and Chief Testing Officer of Testilo and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Kristel Kruustuk

As the Founder of and Chief Testing Officer of Testlio, Kristel leads a professional testing platform that helps software developers by connecting them to the best testers all over the world. The rapidly growing business has already raised more than $6.25mn in investment capital and works with a roster of major US and international clients, including Microsoft, Amazon, CBS and Etsy.

Photo of Juhan Lepassaar
Juhan Lepassaar

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

Show more information on Juhan Lepassaar

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).

Orm Oja
Orm Oja

Co-Founder and Top Chef at Clean Kitchen and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Orm Oja

Orm is the Co-Founder and Top Chef at Clean Kitchen, an innovative cooking service that brings the experience of food to homes comfortably. Previously, Orm was the head chef at NOA Chef’s Hall, the White Guide’s pick for best restaurant in both the Baltics and Estonia in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Orm’s cooking, a mix of avant-garde and more traditional methods, keeps sustainability at its heart. His dishes frequently feature Estonia’s generous endowment of wild herbs, an inventory from which he forages his own ingredients. Following the rhythm of the four seasons of the north, Orm takes advantage of techniques such as pickling to preserve the nutrients and tastes of summer during the cold winter months. Having led NOA Chef’s Hall to its nomination as one of the best new dining experience destinations by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, Orm’s ambitions are now fixed on the prospect of achieving his first Michelin star.

Marko Russiver
Marko Russiver

Founder and CEO of Grantful and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Marko Russiver

An Estonian designer and innovator, Marko is passionate about the open sharing of knowledge and its capabilities to shape the future. Having most recently founded Grantful, he helped launched a global online hackathon series, Hack the Crisis and The Global Hack, to address challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Marko delivered a TED talk on how the initiative could create solutions for the post-pandemic world. He is the Co-Founder and former CEO of Guaana, an online platform that connects scientists and researchers to break down barriers between disciplines. Marko is a Member of Accelerate Estonia’s Advisory Board, the Estonian Founders Society and the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs’ mental health think tank. He has worked closely with research organisations and government institutions, including CERN, the European Space Agency, Dubai Future Foundation and the European Commission, to empower researchers and innovators. Marko previously worked as a creative and art director at branding and service design companies.

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Events

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Selection process

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS/NOMINATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2024 IS NOW OPEN

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.

 

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1984).
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK, Ukraine 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, usually scheduled for March and September.

Please click HERE for the Selection Guidelines 2023 that will give you an idea of the process. The detailed Selection Guidelines 2024 will be made available shortly for download.

Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at eyl40@friendsofeurope.org.

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