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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!)?

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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

Adele Luta
Adele Luta

Scientist, Eleda International, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Adele is an expert in strategic cognitive skills, advanced theory of mind, and applied physics. Her research focuses on operators in time-limited, life-critical, restricted communication environments and how they employ Theory of Mind (ToM) in their mission. Adele’s previous experience includes working as a NASA Flight Controller/Astronaut Instructor, in which role she provided support for over 90 US Space Shuttle, International Space Station (ISS), and Russian spacewalks, and trained five Shuttle crews and two ISS increments in Extra Vehicle Activity (EVA). In addition to her current work as a Research Affiliate at MIT, she has also recently been appointed by the United States of America as a technical team member to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Science and Technology Organization through its Collaborative Support Office.

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar

U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Ilhan Omar the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district. She is first Somali-American, first African-born American, and one of the first two Muslim American women elected to serve in the US Congress. Prior to her election to the US Congress, she was the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives for the 60B district.  Omar was also the Director of Policy Initiatives at Women Organizing Women, where she empowered East African women to take civic leadership roles in their community. Born in Somalia, Omar and her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight. The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States in 1990s.

Sam Rasoul
Sam Rasoul

Delegate for the 11th District Virginia House of Delegates, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Sam Rasoul is the Democratic Party Member of the Virginia House of Delegates for the 11th district. He was born in Ohio to a Palestinian immigrant family. After college, he became the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit healthcare firm. He channelled his passion for healthcare reform into finding more compassionate ways to care for seniors and helping with maternal and child health in East Africa. Rasoul currently has his own small business which helps organisations become more successful through developing better business plans and through investing in their employees. He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2014. He is the only Muslim member of the Virginia General Assembly.

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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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