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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 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

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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

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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

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, 2012 European Young Leader

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Jeanine is a Member of the Dutch House of Representatives since 2010 and a Member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. She previously worked at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement, KPMG, the City of Amsterdam and also served as a Member of the European Parliament. In February 2010, as rapporteur on the issue, Jeanine led the European Parliament vote that rejected an EU-US agreement which would have granted US authorities access to European citizens’ banking data without taking account the European legislation on data protection.

Jesse Klaver
Jesse Klaver

Member of the Dutch House of Representatives, Leader of the Dutch green party GroenLinks and European Young Leader Alumnus

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Jesse currently serves as the green-left party leader in the Dutch Parliament, with a mandate focused on environmental and educational issues. In his time as party leader, Jesse was instrumental in capturing 10 additional parliamentary seats, rising to an all-time high of 14, and making GroenLinks the fifth most important group in the House. Previously, Jesse was the spokesperson for Finance, Environment and Education and sat on a wide range of parliamentary committees. He has publically opposed tax evasion and has co-authored a memo on protecting the Dutch flora and fauna.

Photo of Hanke Bruins Slot
Hanke Bruins Slot

Member of the Dutch Parliament and former military officer, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

Show more information on Hanke Bruins Slot

Hanke is a Dutch politician, former military officer and hockey player. Immediately after graduating from university, Hanke joined the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations as a Senior Policy Officer. She remained in this position for four years before attending the Dutch Royal Military Academy (KMA) where she undertook officer training, and specialised as an artillery commander. Assigned as a Tank Platoon Commander in 2007, Hanke served in Afghanistan and by 2009 was Acting Field Officer assisting the Director of Operations, Land Forces Commando Staff. In 2010, Hanke was elected to the Dutch House of Representatives where she currently serves as party spokesperson on health and defence issues for the Christian Democratic Appeal party, and also focuses on local government, medical law, psychiatry and sports. Hanke is a keen hockey player and was on the team that won the Rabobank Premier Division national indoor hockey championship in 2005.

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Continue to Selection process

Selection process

Due to Covid-19, no European Young Leaders class will be selected for 2021. Application for the class of 2022 will open in the spring of 2021.

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 to EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, North 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.

*references to Kosovo in this document are used without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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