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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

Katharina Borchert
Katharina Borchert

Chief Open Innovation Officer Mozilla. Ex-CEO Spiegel Online, 2012 European Young Leader

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Katharina is CEO of Spiegel Online, the leading German news web site, where she is responsible for the commercial aspects and the long-term strategic development of the company. Previously she was Editor-in-Chief and Online Director of the WAZ Media Group, and was an independent writer focusing on technology and the socio-political implications of the digital age. She became one of the best known German-speaking bloggers, winning several awards, including ‘Young Journalist of the Year’ in 2006. She has also participated in humanitarian work in Africa and Bosnia.

Photo of Franziska Katharina Brantner
Franziska Katharina Brantner

Member of the German Bundestag and Member of the European Parliament (2009-2013), 2012 European Young Leader

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Franziska Katharina Brantner is a German politician. Since 2013, she has been Member of the German Parliament for the Green Party where she has served as Chairwoman of the parliamentary Sub-Committee for Civilian Crisis Prevention and as member of the Committee on Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Previously, she was a Member of the European Parliament where she worked, amongst others, on foreign affairs, security and defence issues. As such, she was member of the Peace and Security Commission of the Green national party and one of the authors of the party’s manifesto for the European election in 2009.

Souad Mekhennet
Souad Mekhennet

National Security Reporter at The Washington Post, 2012 European Young Leader

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Souad is a German journalist of Turkish and Moroccan descent who works for prestigious international magazines, newspapers and TV channels, such as The New York Times, ZDF and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. She specialises in stories relating to terrorist organisations and Islam, and she recently covered the Egyptian demonstrations at the height of the Arab Spring. She is also Co-author of two German language books that deal with the issues of political Islam and jihad, The Children of Jihad and Islam. In 2009 the independent jury of the magazine medium named her one of the Top 3 reporters in German speaking countries. Souad is also the author of the book ‘I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad’, published in 2017.

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Martin Ott

EMEA Managing Director for We Company, 2012 European Young Leader

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Martin Ott is EMEA Managing Director for We Company. He was previously Managing Director Central Europe at Facebook, responsible for the development of Facebook’s business in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and Eastern Europe. With more than 15 years of leadership experience in the digital industry, he advises companies from start-ups to leading global brands on their growth opportunities in the digital world. Prior to joining Facebook in 2012, Martin built one of Europe‘s fastest growing payment unicorns as the Co-Chief Executive Office of Skrill Group in London. With 30M users, Skrill (formerly known as Moneybookers) was an early pioneer in offering global money transfer services. Previously the COO of Jamba/Jamster, he oversaw marketing, services and content as well as building and operating the consumer business, leading up to the groups’s acquisition by News Corporation. He also supports the board of trustees of AfriKids, a London headquartered NGO which supports sustainable development projects in Ghana.

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Dominik Risse

Vice-President Colorant Additives Business, Lanxess, 2012 European Young Leader

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Dominik is Global Head of Marketing at LANXESS AG (Leverkusen, Germany), a leading global specialty chemicals group. Prior to this, he held various management roles in the chemical industry (LANXESS, Bayer) including a nearly 4 year assignment in Southeast Asia. His political record includes activities at both the regional and national levels for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), as well as for the Junge Union and the Wirtschaftsrat Deutschland (the Economic Council of the CDU). Dominik holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Bradford University School of Management and attended INSEAD’s Leadership Programme in Singapore.

Photo of Jens Spahn
Jens Spahn

Ministry of Health, Germany, 2012 European Young Leader

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Jens is the Federal Minister of Health in the Cabinet of Angela Merkel. He has been a member of the Bundestag since 2002, with responsibility for health policies, and a Member of the CDU/CSU Youth Group. He has gathered his experience in government during his time as the Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Finance, a post he has held since July 2015. He holds a degree in Banking and Political Science from the University of Hagen, and previously worked as a banker in his hometown of Munster. Jens is a founding member of the ‘Young Member of Parliament’ cross-party group that promotes integration and equality in politics and society.

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Events

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Insights

Continue to Selection process

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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