About

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, a citizens can collaborate and be the drivers of 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. Their passion, their diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and their innovative thinking together create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.
Our European leaders provide alternative perspectives from outside the institutional and political frameworks to EU decisionmakers writing the rule book.
The European Young Leaders also play the essential role of helping to reconnect people with and rebuild trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole economy whole society approach to progress fast.
They are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by multilateral or frameworks, or burocracy.

They help take Europe out of Brussels, in their own countries and cities. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and help 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: the green and digital transformation, strengthening of our democracy, relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing, and building a more gender and diverse Europe.

Succeeding in these policies together and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.


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

Absi Abou Zaid

Founder & Chief Executive Officer Mavericks International School, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Seif is a social and policy entrepreneur, passionate about education and its relationship to governance. Seif co-founded the Agency for Development and Enhancement, which provides training for young people, and the Nabadat Foundation, a non-profit which aims to use technology to improve education to fight poverty and enhance political awareness. Seif is also the former CEO of Tahrir Academy, a blended learning platform that creates intellectually-stimulating learning experiences for more than 160,000 registered Egyptian and Arab learners. In 2015, he founded the Mavericks International School, which seeks to leverage innovative teaching methods and technology to develop the unique potential of its students.

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Alberto Alemanno

Founder and Chairman of The Good Lobby, Jean Monnet Professor in EU Law at HEC Paris and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alberto Alemanno is an academic, author and activist. He is currently Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law and Public Policy at HEC Paris. Committed to bridging the gap between academic research and policy action, Alberto has pioneered innovative forms of civic engagement and campaigning in the EU transnational space through his civic start-up, The Good Lobby. His 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 the local, national and international levels. He is a regular contributor to Le Monde, Bloomberg, Politico Europe, Forbes, and Il Sole 24 Ore, and his scholarly work has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, The Financial Times, as well as Science and Nature.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé
Guillem Anglada-Escudé

Astrophysicist and Exoplanet Discoverer; Ramón y Cajal Research Fellow at the Institute of Space Sciences (IEEC-CISC) and 2018 European Young Leader

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Guillem Anglada-Escudé is a well-known astrophysicist and scientist, whose current work focuses on exoplanet detection and planetary exploration. Most notably, Guillem and his team discovered the Proxima b exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri, our closest neighbouring star and the nearest star to the Sun. He- has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Goettingen, as well as Queen Mary University of London, where he became a reader in astronomy. He has conducted research in several countries and has been actively engaged with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency. In 2016, Guillem was named among the ten most prominent scientists worldwide by Science Magazine and one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

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.

Alex Budak
Alex Budak

Faculty Member at the University of California, Berkley, Co-Founder of StartSomeGood and 2017 North American Young Leader

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Alex Budak is a serial social entrepreneur and faculty member at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He created and teaches one of the university’s most popular courses, which equips and inspires students on how to become changemakers. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, he co-founded StartSomeGood, a leading social impact crowdfunding platform which has helped over 1,000 changemakers in 50 countries raise over $10mn altogether. Alex is also the former country director of Reach for Change, Scandinavia’s leading social impact incubator, in Stockholm. A mentor, coach and advisor to social entrepreneurs around the world, Alex has delivered keynote speeches and lectures on leadership and social innovation in venues from the White House to the World Bank, from Cambodia to the Arctic Circle. His work has been featured in various publications, including Forbes, The Guardian and The Washington Post.

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Jane Burston

Managing Director of the Clean Air Fund and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Jane has dedicated most her life to climate and environmental issues, serving first as a strategic consultant on low carbon policy to the Mayor of London and is now running a world-class climate science and low carbon technology centre at the UK’s National Measurement Institute. In 2008, she founded Carbon Retirement, an award-winning social enterprise working with the EU ETS. Her dedication to sustainability and entrepreneurial drive was rewarded with being named as one of the ‘Top 30 UK entrepreneurs under 30’ by Real Business in 2010, a ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ by Square Mile in 2011 and one of the ‘Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons of the UK’ by the Chamber of Commerce International in 2015, among others.

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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.

Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bak
Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bak

Social Activist, Member of the Polish parliament and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Agnieszka is among Poland’s most recognised social activists and a strong advocate of women’s and LGBT rights. She currently serves as a Member of the Polish parliament. In 2015, she was instrumental in leading demonstrations against anti-abortion laws in Poland that became known as Black Monday, days after which lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against the proposal and the Minister of Science and Higher Education Jaroslaw Gowin said the protests “caused us to think and taught us humility”. She is a former board member of the left-wing Razem party. Agnieszka was listed among the top 100 most influential Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Journal in 2016 and received the Campaign Against Homophobia’s Equality Crowns award in 2020.

Alicja Gescinska
Alicja Gescinska

Philosopher, writer and TV host and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alicja is a Belgian-Polish philosopher who has oriented her career around questions of identity and freedom. A published academic and an accomplished author, her first and most well-known title, The Conquest of Freedom, was shortlisted for an array of literary prizes when it was published in 2011. In addition to having held the position of Research Associate at Princeton University, Alicja has lectured at Amherst College on topics such as philosophy of freedom, Islam in Europe and European politics. Returning to Belgium in 2016, she now leads the philosophical TV programme, Wanderlust, on the Canvas channel and contributes regularly to both Philosophy Magazine and the broadcasting company, VRT. Her debut fictional novel, A Kind of Love, won the ‘Debuutprijs’ in 2017.

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.

Edvard Glücksman
Edvard Glücksman

Partnerships Manager for International Clean Growth and Net Zero at the University of Exeter and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Edvard is an environmental sustainability professional working at the University of Exeter, currently serving as the business-facing manager on Tevi, a programme funded by European Regional Development Fund which supports the growth of SMEs in Cornwall with a focus on circular economy and environmental growth. Edvard recently spent three years as a senior environmental consultant with Wardell Armstrong, specialising in the environmental and social impacts of development projects in emerging economies in line with the standards of international financial institutions. He has also previously held a number of roles at the interface of science and society, having worked at the European Geosciences Union and the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

Matthew Goodwin
Matthew Goodwin

Professor, Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Matthew, a political scientist by training, has tried to bridge the gap between academia and policy-making when it comes to topics such as radicalisation, extremism and integration. He is an outward-facing researcher who shares the view that social science should be as much about contributing to wider society as to the social sciences. Before his appointment as Professor of Politics and International Relations in Kent, he served as a member of the UK government’s working group on anti-Muslim hatred and spent twelve months on a full-time secondment in a central government department, working alongside policy makers on extremism and integration issues. Matthew also serves as co-editor of the Routledge book series on Extremism and Democracy and regularly contributes to news outlets such as The Guardian and Politico.

Kalliopi Kalaitzi
Kalliopi Kalaitzi

Medical Doctor at Asklepieion Public Hospital and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kalliopi Kalaitzi is a medical doctor in a public hospital in Athens, specialising in physical medicine and rehabilitation with a focus on healthy aging and lifestyle medicine. Having previously worked in the field of aesthetic medicine and plastic surgery for over eight years, Kalliopi has also held a number of executive positions at the drug prevention centre, Serios, and experience working for a variety of NGOs which focus on youth health and drug abuse. She is also the youngest elected official to have served as a prefectural counsellor and as regional commissioner in Greeze. Kalliopi is the Co-Founder of the BrainGain Initiative, which aims to reverse brain drain in Greece. She currently serves as member of the board member of the Greek Cardiology Foundation and the president of an NGO, which focuses on prenatal, maternal and women’s health.

Sony Kapoor
Sony Kapoor

Managing Director of the Re-Define think tank and European Young Leader Alumnus

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Sony is an influential economist, financial sector expert and development practitioner, who currently leads the Re-Define think tank. He advises the EU, central banks, large investors, governments, regulators and multilateral institutions on economic, fiscal, investment and financial policy. He has a multidisciplinary role at the London School of Economics as Strategy Advisor to the Systemic Risk Centre and Senior Visiting Fellow in Development and Public Policy. He is also a special advisor to the UNEP on green finance. Before Re-Define, Sony worked for ICICI, India’s largest investment bank. Sony co-founded the International Tax Justice Network, Europeans for Financial Reform and Finance Watch, and launched the inter-governmental Illicit Finance Task Force. His substantial contribution to financial reform, tackling the euro crisis and promoting development has been recognised by the World Economic Forum naming him a Young Global Leader and by the Royal Society of Arts electing him a Fellow.

Neža Kogovšek Šalamon
Neža Kogovšek Šalamon

Head of Individual Complaints Department at the Advocate of the Principle of Equality and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Neža Kogovšek Šalamon is a human rights advocate with experience at the national and international levels. She is the former director of the Peace Institute, a non-profit research body that aims to create and preserve an open society based on the principles of equality, human rights, responsibility, solidarity and the rule of law. Her work at the institute included legal research, advocacy and teaching, and her fields of research interests spanned from international law and fundamental rights, to asylum and migration law. Neža currently serves as a member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), as well as the European Network of Legal Experts in the Non-Discrimination Field, the European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law (ESCOL) and the Odysseus Academic Network, among others. She is also a member of several legal expert networks, which advocate for anti-discrimination, social inclusion and better representation of immigrants.

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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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