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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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Meet the EYL40

Photo of Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo
Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo

President, Libres e Iguales, 2013 European Young Leader

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Cayetana is a former Member of the Spanish Parliament (2008- 2011) and Vice-President of the Joint Committee for the European Union and a Member of the Justice and Constitutional Committees. She was also Deputy Speaker for the Partido Popular of Madrid and Director of the International Department of FAES Foundation. She was awarded the Silver Microphone of the Spanish Professional Association of Informants of Press, Radio and Television for her articles published in El Mundo. She holds a BA and a PhD in History from Oxford University.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé
Guillem Anglada-Escudé

Reader in Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London, 2018 European Young Leader

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Guillem is a well-known astrophysicist and scientist, who discovered the Proxima-b exoplanet orbiting Proxima-Centauri, our closest neighbouring star. 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, Nature magazine chose him as one of the ten most prominent scientists world-wide, and the same year he was also listed by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Photo of Inés Arrimadas García
Inés Arrimadas García

Leader of the Opposition in the Catalan parliament, 2017 European Young Leader

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Inés started her career in the private sector working for an industrial services company. In 2010, she attended a Ciudadanos rally with a friend and joined the party shortly afterward as the youth section spokesperson. In 2012, she was elected to the Catalonian Parliament as deputy spokesperson. She sat on the Committee on Business and Employment where she focused on socio-economic issues, such as the fight against inequalities and unemployment. Throughout her mandate, she was actively involved in different programmes at local, regional and national level. In 2015, she was appointed Leader of the Opposition as Ciudadanos climbed to second place in the Catalan parliamentary election

Photo of Eneko Atxa
Eneko Atxa

Chef at three-Michelin-starred restaurant Azurmendi, 2017 European Young Leader

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Eneko is a leader in international cuisine. In 2007, he opened his now-renowned restaurant Azurmendi in the Basque country. Within five years, the restaurant – located in the beautiful town of Larrabetzu – had been awarded three Michelin stars. Azurmendi was named Most Sustainable Restaurant in the World by the World’s 50 Best in 2014 and as number two on Elite Traveler’s 2016 list of the best restaurants in the world. Eneko has a creative mind, skilled hands and a work ethic based on care, precision and speed. His intense cuisine is deeply rooted in the local Basque identity. He has been named Champion Young Chef in Spain and Best Chef of the Year by the prestigious French gourmet club Fourchettes.

Alexandre Perez Casares
Alexandre Pérez Casares

Co-Founder of Fever, President of The Altius Society and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alexandre is a Spanish engineer and entrepreneur. He is President and Co-Founder of The Altius Society, a renowned international non-profit which combines the knowledge of Nobel laureates, leading researchers and policymakers to better understand the impact of technology on future societies. He also co-founded Fever, a tech start-up which is disrupting the ‘experience economy’ as it allows its users to browse and book nearby events from a curated collection of places and pop-ups in over a dozen cities around the world. Alexandre has been recognised for his work by the Spanish Ministry of Education with the prestigious National Prize, awarded to Spain’s top three engineers.

Ignacio Escolar
Ignacio Escolar

Founder and Director at El Diario, 2013 European Young Leader

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Ignacio is a journalist, political analyst and Founder and Director of www.eldiario.es, an online media political analysis site. Previously Ignacio founded and managed the well-known newspaper Publico. He also manages www.escolar.net, the most popular and widely read political blog in Spain, which was named best political and journalist blog of the year in 2008 and 2009. Ignacio is also the founder of Bitban, a technology and design consulting company for Internet media communication, working with clients all over the world. In 2009 he was awarded the José Manuel Porquet Journalism Prize, the Mujeres Progresistas Prize for declining to publish prostitution ads in Publico and the Nicolas Salmeron for Human Rights Prize.

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.

Josep-Maria Gascón
Josep-Maria Gascón

Founder & CEO of Vitaes Talent, 2013 European Young Leader

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Josep-Maria is the Founder and CEO of Vitaes Talent, a company that provides fact-based insights on macroeconomic data and markets to help high-level decision-makers understand how the world, the society and the economy are evolving and asses business options and risks. Josep-Maria is former Director of Strategy and Competitive Intelligence within Ministry of Business of the Government of Catalonia. Previously he was Head of Finance Excellence at the chemical giant Solvay and one of his leading lawyers. He has held international senior positions in all continents in general management, business strategy and legal & tax advice.Josep-Maria won the ‘40 under Forty’ Award, as one of the the best young lawyers in the Iberian Peninsula. He was also appointed as ‘Business Ambassador’ by the Government of Catalonia, for his role attracting investment to the region. Josep-Maria is the President of the “World Chemical Summit” and also a Professor of Resource Management at the GBSB Global Business School. He is a frequent speaker and publishes articles in international and national media about leadership, organisational behaviour, change management and geopolitics.

Moha Gerehou
Moha Gerehou

Spanish journalist, anti-racist activist and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Moha is a Spanish journalist and activist. He writes for eldiario.es, a leading online newspaper in Spain, where he contributes op-eds as well as creates video content explaining and analysing issues related to race and discrimination. Moha served as president of SOS Racismo Madrid, a prominent organisation that seeks to combat racism and xenophobia. In addition, Moha is active on the speaker circuit and is a lecturer at the University of Syracuse and the University of Stanford’s campuses in Madrid. Moha is known for utilising both print and multimedia content to advance his message: he is the creator of the audiovisual monologue ‘How would be my life if I were a black character in a movie’ and one of the writers of the book ‘Lost in media: migrant perspectives and the Public Sphere.’

Javier Gonzalez
Javier Gonzalez

Vice President of Bitext, 2012 European Young Leader

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Javier was until recently the international director of Digimarc, which develops solutions, licenses intellectual property, and provides development services to global business partners across a wide range of industries, focusing on delivering simplicity to users’ interactions with media and the physical world. Previously, he was founder and CEO of aquaMobile SL, a mobile value-added services provider based in Madrid, and one of the most successful digital watermarking solutions companies. He has also worked in management roles for various start-ups, such as Alvento and Mobile 365 Inc. He is Co-founder of the tMA Foundation, which encourages innovative and entrepreneurial projects in conjunction with MIT. Javier is a graduate from the Madrid Polytechnic University and ESCP Europe.

Rebeca Minguela
Rebeca Minguela

Founder, Blink Booking, 2018 European Young Leader

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As Founder of Clarity AI, Rebeca looks to solve the problem of inefficient and unequal allocation of capital by building an automated tool which rates the investment portfolios of a range of projects, companies, governments and NGOs. Rebeca is also the Founder of the Blink Booking mobile app, an award-winning last-minute booking app that is a market leader in Europe with more than 800,000 downloads, almost 3,000 hotels and available in six languages before its sale to Groupon. Previously, Rebeca served as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and as engineer at the German Aerospace Agency, Siemens and IBM.

Roger Montañola i Busquets
Roger Montañola i Busquets

Founder and President of Twenty50, 2019 European Young Leader

Show more information on Roger Montañola i Busquets

Roger is one of the founding fathers of Twenty50, a think tank that unites the best global talents on a multidisciplinary platform based on cooperation, exchange and thought. Connecting professionals from a wide range of backgrounds and a variety of major cities, Twenty50 maintains that its primary objective is to forge the society of the future. Focusing on technological innovation, the think tank works on a range of issues such as nanorobotics, genomics, AI and virtual reality. As a former MP in the Parliament of Catalonia and as deputy of the Convergència i Unió, Roger was one of the youngest members to join at the age of 24. In 2015, he was selected for the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program by the US State Department.

Alfredo Munoz
Alfredo Munoz

Founder and CEO of ABIBOO, 2019 European Young Leader

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Alfredo is a global architect who has designed and managed more than six million square meters across five continents. In addition to being the youngest internationally-renowned Spanish architect, he was also selected for the European Centre & Chicago Athenaeum Museum Architecture and Design bi-annual awards programme. Under Alfredo’s leadership, ABIBOO has designed projects in a wide range of scales, from large urban developments and affordable housing townships to small temporal structures. Before founding ABIBOO, Alfredo held senior roles at Toyo Ito (Pritzker Prize), and SOM (1,700+ awards).

Photo of Eduardo Portal Martin
Eduardo Portal Martin

Conductor and Founder of Antares Ensemble, 2017 European Young Leader

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Over the last few years, Eduardo has made a great impression on audiences and orchestras alike. Since graduating as conductor and violinist, he has conducted multiple orchestras across Europe and the Americas, such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, his presentation with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales included a broadcast on BBC Radio 3. For the third season in a row, he has returned on multiple occasions to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to conduct concerts all around England. Widely acclaimed by musical critics, Eduardo is particularly committed to the contemporary repertoire and is the founder of the Antares Ensemble in Spain, whose focus is on the performance of new music and research into its links with historical and rarely-performed masterpieces.

Sara García Ruiz
Sara García Ruiz

Engineer, S.A. de Electronica Submarina (SAES), 2012 European Young Leader

Show more information on Sara García Ruiz

Sara is an engineer at S.A. de Electronica Submarina (SAES), a company specialised in submarine electronics and acoustics. Prior to this, she was a Member of the Murcian regional Parliament where she served as First Secretary of the Defense Committee as well as a Member of the Science and Innovation and Equality Committees. She has been a Member of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party since she was 16. She studied communications engineering and has worked in the defence policy sector. She stands for male-female parity in Spain’s politics and for the presence of members of parliament of all ages.

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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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