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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

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.

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. 

Magid Magid
Magid Magid

Former member of the European Parliament, former lord mayor of Sheffield and European Young Leader Alumnus

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Magid was formerly the Lord Mayor of Sheffield. He is the youngest person ever to hold the job and he is also the first Green Party councillor to wear the chain of office. Magid came to Sheffield aged five after six months in an Ethiopian refugee camp. He joined the Green Party in 2015 during the rise of the far-right party UKIP. In his inaugural portrait, Magid squatted on a balustrade wearing green Dr. Martens, an image that went viral on social media. In 2019, Magid was elected to the European Parliament where he remained a member until Britain’s exit from the EU in January 2020.

Emma Reynolds
Emma Reynolds

Member, House of Commons, United Kingdom, 2013 European Young Leader

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Emma is a Member of the British Parliament since 2010 and a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee as well as Shadow Minister for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Prior to becoming an MP, Emma helped to set up a business which supported British companies in understanding and influencing EU laws. She then went on to work for the Party of European Socialists in Brussels as an adviser to Robin Cook. Emma was later appointed as political advisor to Geoff Hoon, in his role as Europe Minister and then Chief Whip. She graduated from Oxford University in philosophy, politics and economics.

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, The Scottish Government, 2018 European Young Leader

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“Since July 2018 : Cabinet Secretary for Justice.
Humza is the Scottish Government Minister for Transport and Islands. Despite his young age, Yousaf has already served for four years as Scotland’s first minister for Europe and International Development, apart from other positions in the public service. At 27, he became the youngest minister in the Scottish Government’s history as well as the first ever minister from an ethnic minority background.While delivering his oath of allegiance, he notably, embraced his British-Pakistani heritage and British multiculturalism while wearing a kilt and speaking in Urdu. He has been involved in community work, being a spokesperson and volunteer on several issues related to homelessness and asylum seekers and has been described as a “role model for all Scots”.”

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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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