About

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

Mariya Gabriel
Mariya Gabriel

European Commissioner-designate for Innovation and Youth, and European Young Leader

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Mariya is a Bulgarian politician currently serving as the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. Previously, Mariya was also a Member of the European Parliament, active as both the Head of the Bulgarian European People’s Party (EPP) delegation and Vice-President of the EPP party, and involved in a wide range of parliamentary committees, including acting as EPP Group coordinator for the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality( FEMM), and as a Member of the Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI); Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE); Petitions (PETI); and the special committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering (CRIM). Recipient of several international awards, she is passionate about initiatives related to young people, and has established six European information centres in Bulgaria.

Photo of Eva Maydell
Eva Maydell

Member of the European Parliament, 2017 European Young Leader

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Eva is the youngest EPP Group member in the European Parliament. She sits on the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, where she works to reduce barriers to economic trade and simplify legislation to enhance competitiveness across the Single Market. In 2015, she was named the European Parliament’s best newcomer by the Parliament Magazine. Before the 2014 elections, Eva supported the leadership of her Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party in fostering and maintaining contacts with political leaders across Europe. In Bulgaria, she helped set up education programmes such as Education Bulgaria 2030, which aims to connect young people with employers. Eva was awarded, at the age of 17, the Queen of Light Santa Lucia award by the Swedish Embassy in Bulgaria for young social leadership.

Monika Panayotova
Monika Panayotova

Deputy Minister, Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2018, 2019 European Young Leader

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Monika was Deputy Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU2018. She previously served as a Member of the European Parliament for the European People’s Party or EPP. Prior to that post, she was a Member of the Bulgarian Parliament, a Chairwoman of the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds and a member of the Foreign Policy and Defence Committee. Before starting her political career, Monika worked for an NGO and spent time as a research fellow at the Economic Policy Institute in Sofia.

Vessela Tcherneva
Vessela Tcherneva

Deputy Director, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), 2012 European Young Leader

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Vessela is Spokesperson and Member of Cabinet for the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously, she was Director of the Bulgarian office of the European Foreign Policy Council and Programme Director of the Centre for Liberal Strategies. Between 2004 and 2006 she was Secretary of the International Commission on the Balkans, chaired by Giuliano Amato. She is Observing Editor of Foreign Policy – Bulgaria magazine, a position she has held since its launch in 2005.

Krasimira Velichkova
Krasimira Velichkova

Director, Bulgarian Donors' Forum, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

Show more information on Krasimira Velichkova

Krasimira has been the Director of the Bulgarian Donors’ Forum since 2007 – the only association of foundations and corporate donors in Bulgaria. The Forum has a leading role in the development of philanthropy and civil society in the country by advocating for a better legal and fiscal environment, advising corporate and individual donors, developing fundraising platforms, supporting NGOs to partner with donors, and working with the media to change public opinion towards philanthropy and volunteerism in society. Prior to this she was a development officer in “Altera Cultural” association and grants manager of the “Workshop for Civic Initiatives” foundation. Krasimira is experienced in organisational development strategies, fundraising for social and cultural projects, as well as developing and implementing social and cultural policies.  Krasimira is a vice-chair of the steering committee of DAFNE (Donors’ Associations and Foundations Networks in Europe).

Yuriy Vulkovsky
Yuriy Vulkovsky

Country Manager, Reach for Change, 2014 European Young Leader

Show more information on Yuriy Vulkovsky

Yuriy is a Country Manager for Bulgaria of the International Foundation “Reach for Change” which supports social innovators and social entrepreneurs in 18 countries at 3 continents. He has more than 20 years of experience in the non-governmental sector in Bulgaria and Europe working for the capacity building of the independent social and cultural organisations, as well fighting for government transparency and effectiveness. He believes that the change starts from bottom up and the innovation emerges from the periphery, not from the center. German Marshall Fund and Salzburg Global Seminar Alumni. Member of the Strategy Group of the European Initiative “A Soul for Europe”.

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Events

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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