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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

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

Dawood Azami
Dawood Azami

Multi-Media Editor (News and Current Affairs) at BBC World Service, 2012 European Young Leader

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Dawood is one of the most promising young journalists and scholars of his generation in the UK. He has been working for the BBC World Service in London as a Senior Broadcast Journalist and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster, where he teaches Globalization, Power and International Governance. He joined the BBC in 1998 and also worked as the BBC World Service Bureau Chief and Editor in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was also a visiting scholar at Ohio State University, USA. He holds three Bachelor’s and three Master’s degrees, including Science, Law, International Relations and Diplomacy. In 2010, Dawood became the youngest person to ever win the biggest award in the BBC, the “Global Reith Award for Outstanding Contribution”. He is also a poet/writer, calligrapher and painter/artist.

Alexander Betts
Alexander Betts

Professor of Forced Migration and Associate Head of the Social Sciences Division at the University of Oxford and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alexander is an award-winning British academic, whose research focuses mainly on the politics and economics of refugee assistance, with a focus on Africa. In addition to his academic work, Alexander leads the IKEA Foundation-funded Refugee Economies Programme. Previously, Alexander served as Director of the Refugee Studies Centre and co-authored Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System, which the Economist labelled as one of the Best Books of 2017. Alexander was also named a ‘top 100 global thinker’ by Foreign Policy. His TED talks have been viewed by over three million people.

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Jane Burston

Managing Director of the Clean Air Fund, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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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.

Alexandra Dariescu
Alexandra Dariescu

Award-winning concert pianist, producer of “The Nutcracker and I” and creative entrepreneur, 2018 European Young Leader

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Named a ‘Rising Star’ by the BBC Music Magazine, Alexandra made her debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York. An award-winning Romanian pianist, she has performed in many prestigious orchestras, such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Recipient of several awards and honours, she has been listed as one of the ’30 Pianists under 30 Destined for a Spectacular Career’ by the International Piano Magazine. In addition to her musical achievements, Alexandra received the UK’s Women of the Future Award in the Arts and Culture category, making her an ambassador and symbol of success in the classical music industry. In late 2017, the world premiere of her own production, “The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu”, took place in London – a ground-breaking multimedia performance created for a piano solo with dance and digital animation.

Tishani Doshi
Tishani Doshi

Poet, Writer & Dancer, 2014 European Young Leader

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Tishani is an Indian-Welsh dancer, poet and freelance writer. Currently based in Madras, India, Tishani divides her time between dancing for one of India’s leading choreographers, Chandralekha, and writing pieces for publications such as The Guardian, Corriere della Sera, The New York Times, The Hindu, The National, India Today, Outlook, Tricycle, Vogue and Elle. Her written work has garnered her various awards such as the prestigious Forward Prize (UK) for Best First Collection (2006) for her debut collection of poems, and she was selected to represent India at the 2012 Poetry Parnassus Cultural Olympics in London. Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers, was published to critical acclaim in 2010, and has been translated into multiple languages. Her latest book is a collection of poems, Everything Begins Elsewhere, and has been published in India, the UK and the USA.

Colum Eastwood
Colum Eastwood

Leader, Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP), 2017 European Young Leader

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Colum has been at the heart of the post-conflict success story in Derry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland. He was only 27 years old when he was elected as the city’s mayor in 2010. In this position, he championed Derry as a city of culture and transformed its image. Throughout the years, Colum continuously stood against dissident republican violence and steadfastly called for an end to terrorist activities by armed groups. Following his election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011, Colum was appointed as the SDLP representative on the committee overseeing the work of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. He currently sits on the Committee for Communities, which plays a key role in debating and developing legislation.

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Myriam François

International News Correspondent, TRT World, 2017 European Young Leader

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Myriam is an academic, broadcaster and writer specialising in issues related to Islam and the Middle East. She is a regular contributor to the Middle East Eye, the New Statesman and the Telegraph. In 2014, she broke a headline story on an exclusive 36-page document written by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al-Qaeda militant behind the 9/11 attacks. Since then, she presented two BBC documentaries, ‘The Muslim Pound’ (2016) and ‘A Deadly Warning: Srebrenica Revisited’ (2015) nominated for the Sandford St Martin religious programming award. Myriam is also a Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies at SOAS University, where she focuses on British-Muslim integration issues. She recently completed her doctorate at Oxford University on the subject of Islamic political movements in Morocco.

Joss Garman
Joss Garman

UK Initiative Director at the European Climate Foundation, 2019 European Young Leader

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Joss is a British environmental and humanitarian campaigner who currently works as the UK Programme Director for the European Climate Foundation. He also sits on the board of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the Board of GreenerUK, a coalition of NGOs campaigning to protect high environmental standards through the Brexit process. He previously served as chief advisor to the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, in addition to serving as Associate Director for energy & climate change at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Among the many senior positions he occupied at Greenpeace UK, he has worked as Political Director, Head of Media, and Head of the Energy & Climate Campaign. During his time at Greenpeace, he co-founded the direct-action group, Plane Stupid, and acted as an advisor to the TUC and UNICEF.

Matthew Goodwin
Matthew Goodwin

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

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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.

Luke Graham
Luke Graham

Special advisor on the Union to the UK government and 2019 European Young Leader

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In his current position as special advisor to the UK government under Boris Johnson, Luke works on fostering greater unity amongst the different countries of the United Kingdom. He was previously a member of parliament for the Conservative Party and served as the parliamentary private secretary to the Cabinet Office. Before entering politics, Luke worked in the private sector as an accountant for over a decade. Upon returning from five years abroad in China, Thailand and the United States, he campaigned for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom. He also notably took on the role of finance director for Stronger In, the official Remain campaign during the Brexit referendum. 

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Ben Hammersley

Internet Technologist, Journalist & Author, 2014 European Young Leader

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Ben is a British writer and technologist, specialising in the effects of the internet and the ubiquitous digital network on the worldʼs political, cultural and social spheres. He enjoys an international career as a speaker, explaining complex technological and sociological topics to lay audiences and as a high-level advisor on these matters to governments and business. He is currently a Robert Schuman fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, an Innovator in Residence at the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies at Goldsmiths, University of London, a non-resident fellow of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C., a member of the European Commission High Level Group on Media Freedom and contributing editor of the UK edition of WIRED magazine. He is the accredited inventor of the word “Podcast”, published in The Guardian (2004).

Photo of Mehdi Hasan
Mehdi Hasan

Broadcaster, Journalist and Presenter at Al Jazeera International, 2017 European Young Leader

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Mehdi is an award-winning journalist and political commentator. He is the presenter of ‘The Café’, ‘Head to Head’ and ‘UpFront’ on Al Jazeera English. He was previously political director at Huffington Post UK. Mehdi was named as one of the 100 most influential Britons on Twitter and was included in the annual global list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. In 2013, his debate-winning speech in an Oxford Union debate on Islam and peace went viral online, winning more than two million views. He is also the author of two books: a biography of former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and an eBook on debt and the financial crisis.

Hera Hussain
Hera Hussain

Founder of CHAYN and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Hera is a Scottish activist, feminist and tech expert. Passionate about empowering women, she created CHAYN as a global project run by volunteers that crowdsources online resources to address gender-based violence. CHAYN has reached more than 300,000 people through its projects targeted to helping survivors of abuse. Hera is a fervent believer in the power of open source technology and open data as a tool to solve the world’s pressing issues. When she is not busy running CHAYN, Hera works with governments and civil society seeking to open data sets as a way to fight corruption.

Anne-Marie Imafidon
Anne-Marie Imafidon

Chief Executive Officer of Stemettes, 2018 European Young Leader

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Anne-Marie co-founded and became the CEO of Stemettes in 2013. Through this social enterprise, she aims to inspire and promote the involvement of the next generation of women into scientific, technologic, engineering, and mathematics centred subjects (STEM) and careers. Within three years, Stemettes has attracted over 7000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe to their events. A child prodigy, Anne-Marie’s passion and success in the STEM scene started at an early age, with passing two GCSEs at the age of ten, and being the youngest girl ever to pass A-Level Computing. In recognition of her influence and achievements, Anne-Marie was awarded an MBE in 2017.

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Owen Jones

Author, Columnist, Commentator & Political Activist for the Guardian, 2017 European Young Leader

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Owen is an author, commentator and political activist. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian, having previously written for the Independent. He has made several television appearances on the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky News as well as on ITV’s Daybreak and BBC One’s ‘Question Time’. His work also appeared in several publications, including the Sunday Mirror and Le Monde diplomatique. In 2011, Owen published his first book, ‘Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class’, which received favourable critical reviews, including from the New York Times. He was named one of the top 50 Britons of the year by the Independent on Sunday in 2011 and was awarded the Young Writer of the Year prize at the Political Book Award in 2013.

Continue to Events

Events

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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