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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

Photo of Samir Abdelkrim
Samir Abdelkrim

Founder of EMERGING Valley, Author, Entrepreneur and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Samir is not only a French entrepreneur but also an author and a tech reporter. Passionate about all things digital, he founded EMERGING Valley as an international summit on African innovation to connect tech start-ups with investors, thinkers and decision-makers across continents. He also leads StartupBRICS, a company that provides insights on entrepreneurship in emerging economies. Samir is a former chronicler on African tech entrepreneurs for Le Monde and has also featured in the Huffington Post, Le Point and Les Echos. His book, Startup Lions, chronicles his experience travelling the African continent in search of the most interesting and innovative tech start-ups. With French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative “Summit of the Two Shores of the Mediterranean”, Samir was amongst 10 selected to make proposals to relaunch European and Mediterranean cooperation.

Marguerite Berard-Andrieu
Marguerite Berard-Andrieu

Head of Retail Banking at BNP Paribas, 2017 European Young Leader

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A graduate of the Paris Institute of Political Science and the University of Princeton, Marguerite began her career in 2004 as an auditor at France’s General Inspectorate of Finance, where she was responsible for auditing public bodies. She then served as an adviser to the French President on questions related to employment and social protection before heading the private office of the French Minister of Labour, Employment and Health. In 2012, Marguerite joined Groupe BPCE, the second-largest banking group in France. Four years later, she became a member of its Management Board and was appointed as Chief Executive Officer for Finance, Legal Affairs and Strategy. She has been a member of the French High Council of Public Finances since 2013.

Diane Binder
Diane Binder

Vice-President for International Development, Africa and Near East at Suez Group; Member of the Presidential Council for Africa of France, 2018 European Young Leader

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Diane has more than 15 years of international experience in global corporations, consulting, government, international organisations and NGOs. As current Vice-President at Suez, a global leader in the water and waste sector, she leads their activities in Africa and the Middle East supporting cities and industries in the circular economy to preserve, optimise and secure the resources essential to our future. Diane is also the founder of the NGO Action Emploi Réfugiés, which aims to facilitate refugees’ access to jobs, and advises French President Emmanuel Macron as Member of the Presidential Council on Africa. In 2014, she was listed by the French newspaper Les Echos as part of the “French touch”, the 100 personalities promoting France abroad.

Xavier Duportet
Xavier Duportet

CEO and Chairman, Eligo Bioscience, 2017 European Young Leader

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Xavier is a synthetic biologist and entrepreneur who was named French Innovator of the Year by MIT Technology Review in 2015. He co-founded Eligo Bioscience, where he has developed a system that uses genetic editing techniques and nanotechnology and designs new types of medicine to eliminate specific bacteria and leave the others intact. After winning several start-up competitions, the company has recently raised €2.4m in seed funding. Xavier also co-founded Hello Tomorrow, a global non-profit organisation that aims to accelerate science and tech innovation by empowering start-ups and offering cash prizes and connections with industrials and investors. Xavier is a senior adviser to the French government on emerging technologies and their impact on industry.

Rabah Ghezali
Rabah Ghezali

Director, European Legislative Affairs, European Government Affairs and Public Advocacy at NYSE Euronext, 2013 European Young Leader

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Rabah is Director, European Legislative Affairs, European Government Affairs and Public Advocacy at NYSE Euronext as well as Adjunct Professor of Economics at Sciences-Po Paris. Rabah has had a successful diplomatic and legal career having worked as a counselor for major corporations and States. He holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and a Master of Laws from the University of Oxford. Rabah is also a Research Fellow at the Center for Analysis and Proposals for Middle East and North Africa (CapMENA) and is a founding member of the Transatlantic Network 2020. He is a Member of the Young Atlanticist Group of the Atlantic Council and is a UN Alliance of Civilizations Fellow.

Christel Heydemann
Christel Heydemann

Executive Vice-President of Human Resources and Transformation, Alcatel-Lucent, 2014 European Young Leader

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Christel is Executive Vice-President of Human Resources and Transformation at Alcatel-Lucent and Member of the Executive Management Committee. Christel began her career at The Boston Consulting Group in Paris and joined Alcatel in 1999 on the Project Finance team of the Chief Financial Officer and has made her way up the ladder progressively and successfully ever since. She is also President of Fondation Azaria, created in 1940 to support employees facing personal difficulties. Christel was selected in 2012 as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and as a Rising Talent by the Women’s forum. Christel is a graduate of the French Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.

Axelle Lemaire
Axelle Lemaire

Global Head, Terra Numerata, 2013 European Young Leader

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Axelle’s current position at Terra Numerata. sees her heading the growth of this unique, open platform aiming to bring together notable digital players. With more than 70 partners including startups and established technology companies, Terra Numerata is a unique, open platform aiming to bring together notable digital players. Previously a Socialist Party Member of the French Parliament, she was elected in 2012 as a Member of the European Affairs Committee and Secretary for the Bills Committee. After working as a lawyer and law researcher at University, her keen interest in politics brought her to the House of Commons, where she spent several years working for a Labour MP.

Guillaume Liegey
Guillaume Liegey

CEO of eXplain, 2014 European Young Leader

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Guillaume is an expert in electoral strategy. He began his career in Beijing before joining the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for 4 years in France and in the United States. In 2012, he joined the French presidential campaign team of François Hollande, in which he oversaw the field campaign strategy to reach out to 5 million households, led the rollout of the campaign in 30 departments and coordinated the communication strategy. He then co-founded a political strategy firm Liegey Muller Pons to help other European political parties improve the way they run their election campaigns and engage with citizens before and after the polls. Guillaume is the co-author of Porte-à-porte, Reconquérir la démocratie sur le terrain (2013). He is also a lecturer at Sciences Po Paris, where he teaches a course on electoral campaigns. Guillaume is a graduate of HEC and Harvard, holding a Master in Public Administration and a MSc in Management.

Photo of André Loesekrug-Pietri
André Loesekrug-Pietri

Director of JEDI, former special advisor to the French Minister of Defence, Founder of ACAPITAL, 2013 European Young Leader

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André is a French-German entrepreneur who has held leadership positions in private equity, government and industry. Starting as assistant to the CEO of Aerospatiale-Airbus, he then spent 15 years in private equity and venture capital, including 10 years with China, investing in European companies with global ambitions. In 2017, he became special advisor to the French Minister of Defence, responsible in particular for European defence policy as well as technology and innovation. He is currently in charge of the Joint European Disruptive Initiative (JEDI), aiming to accelerate Europe’s leadership in disruptive innovations. He is also a lecturer at SciencesPo and a Non-Resident Fellow of the German Marshal Fund. His professional experience is complemented by his expertise in aerospace – he is a private pilot and a Colonel with the French Air Force People’s Reserve.

Frédéric Mazzella
Frédéric Mazzella

Founder & President of BlaBlaCar, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Frédéric is the Founder and CEO of BlaBlaCar, the leading European ridesharing community that connects drivers with empty seats and people travelling the same way, so they can share the cost. Today, with more than 20 million members worldwide and several million people transported per month, BlaBlaCar is making road travel social, money-saving and more sustainable. Frédéric holds an MBA from INSEAD, a Masters of Science in Computer Science from Stanford and a Masters of Physics from ENS Ulm (Normale Sup). Prior to founding BlaBlaCar, he worked for 3 years as a scientific researcher at NASA (USA), and NTT (Japan). Frédéric is a regular speaker at international conferences and in the media (CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC) on the theme of sustainable development, entrepreneurship, global marketplaces and building trust in online communities. He is also an accomplished classical pianist.

Lara Rouyres
Lara Rouyres

Founder and CEO, Selectionnist and Levia.ai, 2017 European Young Leader

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Lara is a serial entrepreneur. In 2009, she founded Dealissime, a website providing buyer groups with daily offers relating to products and services for women. By 2011 it had been acquired by LivingSocial, part of the Amazon group. In 2013, she launched Selectionnist, which seeks to bridge the gap between offline content and online experience by allowing users to find any item featured in French fashion magazines through a mobile application. Selectionnist is also a high-performance analytics tool for both advertisers and publishers and is currently working with more than 30 top magazines in France, such as Elle and Marie Claire. The venture raised €2m in seed financing. In 2016 she founded Levia.ai aiming to develop highly-personalized, one-to-one shopping experiences creating a unique virtual vendor powered by AI. Lara is also a member of the French Digital Council, and part of the French Movement for a benevolent Economy (MEB).

Aziz Senni
Aziz Senni

Founder and President, Alliance Transport et Accompagnement, 2012 European Young Leader

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Aziz is a young French entrepreneur, Founder and President of Alliance Transport et Accompagnement, a ‘collective taxi’ company for the region of Paris, and Founder and President of Business Angel des Cités, a social investment fund for the development of Parisian suburban areas. Aziz has published two books in France, the first on the ‘social glass ceiling’ entitled L’ascenseur social est en panne… j’ai pris l’escalier (The social elevator is broken, I took the stairs), and the second, Monte ton BIZ (Create your own business: 10 commandments of the entrepreneur coming from suburbs) on how to become a successful entrepreneur when coming from a under-privileged neighbourhood. He has received several awards from the French government including the Médaille de l’Assemblée nationale (the National Assembly Medal).

Mathieu Vedrenne
Mathieu Vedrenne

Chief Executive Officer, Société Générale Private Banking, 2012 European Young Leader

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Mathieu is Chief Executive Officer of Société Générale Private Banking Switzerland since 2012. Prior to this he was Chief of Staff to the CEO of Société Générale, one of the major banking services companies in Europe. He joined the company in 2001, after having worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for 3 years, and quickly climbed the professional ladder within the company. He was selected for the company’s Executive Programme for the top performing employees. He is a sponsor of the 2010-2012 HEC Entrepreneur Diversity Programme and is a Member of the Executive Committee of the Fondation Croissance Responsable (Responsible Growth Foundation).

Charles-Edouard Vincent
Charles-Edouard Vincent

Founder, Lulu dans ma rue, 2013 European Young Leader

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Charles Edouard is Founder and Head of Emmaüs Défi, a branch of Emmaüs France, which functions as a non-discriminating company providing jobs to all those who cannot find work in today’s market. He has an atypical background having previously worked in the IT sector at companies such as Netscape, Escalate and SAP France. Only later did he decide to dedicate his career to social entrepreneurship. Charles Edouard also teaches a Social Business and Poverty Entrepreneurship class at the HEC School in Paris. He has attended several universities such as Ecole Polytechnique, ParisTech and Stanford, from which he received a Master’s degree in Engineering Management.

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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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