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

Photo of Mette Abildgaard
Mette Abildgaard

MP, group chair and political spokesperson for Conservative Party in Denmark, 2019 European Young Leaders

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In 2015, Mette became one of the youngest individuals to be elected Member to the Danish Parliament. Representing the Conservative People’s Party, she serves as the spokesperson for healthcare, environment, climate and the Danish constitution. In 2016, she was appointed as group chair and political spokesperson, a promotion which made her the youngest person to hold this position in the history of the Conservative People’s Party. Before being elected to the parliament, Mette served as a Member of the Regional Council of the Capital Region of Denmark and worked as a volunteer for the Danish Cancer Society. In addition to these posts, Mette has served on the board of the Metropol College of Higher Education

Photo of Ida Auken
Ida Auken

Member of the Danish National Parliament, 2012 European Young Leader

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Ida became the Danish Minister for the Environment in October 2011, having been a Member of Parliament and spokesperson on environmental issues for the Danish Socialist People’s Party since 2007. She is well known in Denmark for her work on renewable energy, green cities and environmental protection. Ida studied theology and is also a priest who has written several books on the relationships between theology, politics and society.

Photo of Kirsten Brosbøl
Kirsten Brosbøl

Member of Parliament, Denmark, 2017 European Young Leader

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Kirsten has represented the Social Democrats in the Danish Parliament since 2005. She was a rapporteur on research and higher education as well as on gender equality and food. She was appointed as Denmark’s Minister of the Environment in 2014, in the government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt. In that position, she facilitated the development of sustainable solutions and contributed to the development of industrial growth and workplaces in Denmark. In the 2015 general election, she was re-elected to the Danish Parliament. Kirsten is the co-founder of the Bilateral Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The network operates across party lines in the Danish Parliament to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights at a national and international level.

Soulaima Gourani
Soulaima Gourani

Keynote speaker, author and advisor, 2014 European Young Leader

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Soulaima is a speaker, consultant, author, blogger and an active board member in several public and private companies. It is her vision to change the world to a better more tolerant place through trade and business, and relations between countries and people. She spends part of her time and own money travelling around the world to do “impact journeys”. The past year she has been to Mexico, UAE, India, Jordan, Myanmar and China to work with local entrepreneurs, young global leaders, local schools, change makers and NGOs. Since 2007, she has worked as an advisor and speaker for more than 1000 clients. She has received several prestigious awards among others the Rising Star, the Talent 100 price 2004, PowerWomen, 20 Greatest Nordic Thinkers. Soulaima holds an E-MBA from the Copenhagen Business School.

Jens Ole Bach Hansen
Jens Ole Bach Hansen

Counsellor, Africa and development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2014 European Young Leader

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Jens is Counsellor at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to his current role, He was posted at the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations in New York, in charge of Danish relations and strategic interventions with the UN Development System. Having worked and studied in the United States, France, Palestine, Israel, Denmark and Jordan, Jens Ole defines himself as “a dedicated internationalist and multi-lateralist”. Following 10 years of experience in international relations, he is now focused on the changing international architecture and the role of the United Nations in addressing global challenges. Jens Ole is a graduate in International affairs from the dual degree programme between Columbia University and Sciences Po, Paris and a BA in Public administration from Roskilde University.

Selina Juul
Selina Juul

Founder and Chairman of the Board of Stop Wasting Food movement, 2018 European Young Leader

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Selina is an activist widely known for her work in promoting the reduction of food waste, featured on BBC and CNN. She founded the non profit organisation Stop Wasting Food movement, which led Denmark to engaging in the fight against food waste from farm to fork. Selina has authored over 190 articles on food waste, she is a blogger for The Huffington Post USA and published a leftovers cookbook. She has received numerous awards for her work, the most notable are Dane of the Year 2014 and Winner of Nordic Council Nature and Environment Prize 2013. She works with the EU and the UN and is a member of global coalition against food waste Champions 12.3.

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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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