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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 Malcolm Byrne
Malcolm Byrne

Irish senator at Seanad Eireann, 2014 European Young Leader

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Malcolm is an Irish senator at Seanad Eireann. He was previously Head of Communications and Public Affairs with the Higher Education Authority, the statutory agency in Ireland that allocates public funding to higher education and advises government on higher education and research policy. A graduate in law and in arbitration from University College Dublin, he has worked for various lobbying and representative organisations, as well as having been the first commercial manager with myhome.ie, Ireland’s most successful property website. He is a member of Wexford County Council for the centrist Fianna Fáil party and Mayor of Gorey. He is part of the 2014 group of European Young Leaders. He has been awarded scholarships to study the Canadian and Australian higher education systems. This October, in Dublin, he hopes to complete his 30th marathon.

Jorge Juan Fernandez Garcia
Jorge Juan Fernandez Garcia

Director of Innovation, European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), 2014 European Young Leader

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Jorge Juan Fernández García is EIT Health’s Director of Innovation, where he plays a vital role in shaping the wide range of Innovation Projects that the organisation develops and supports. Before joining EIT Health, Jorge was Director of E-Health within the Innovation Department at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona – one of the most relevant examples in Europe where a healthcare provider is using online care, telemedicine, mobile apps and health 2.0 tools to put the patient in the centre of care – and Director of Moebio, an initiative to develop healthcare entrepreneurs and future leaders in healthcare. Jorge has more than 18 years of experience in healthcare and life sciences, the last eight years fully dedicated to innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, at the intersection of business, government, and academia. He regularly acts as advisor and mentor to various healthcare start-ups and entrepreneurial acceleration programs, where he helps create a stronger ecosystem in the biomedical and healthcare industries.

Pavla Gomba
Pavla Gomba

Executive Director of United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 2014 European Young Leader

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Pavla is the Executive director of UNICEF in the Czech Republic. Under her leadership, the Czech UNICEF has become not only a strong advocate for children’s rights, but also a leading fundraising organisation, with a contribution rate of 82 (the 3rd highest in the worldwide network), emerging from a recipient of international funding to the net donor to the international causes – an experience that is now viewed as an inspiration for the new business model of UNICEF in middle-income countries. Pavla has extensive experience of missions in developing countries, ranging from the areas hit by natural disasters and post-conflict countries to the countries struggling with high poverty rates and social inequalities. Pavla is also a member of the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting to which she was elected by the Czech Parliament. She is currently carrying out a PhD at the Technical University of Ostrava, focusing on international security and terrorism and she holds an MSc in Finance from the University of Economics, Prague.

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.

Photo of Juhan Lepassaar
Juhan Lepassaar

Executive Director of the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), 2014 European Young Leader

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Juhan Lepassaar has extensive experience working with and within the European Union. Prior to joining ENISA, he was Head of Cabinet for Vice-President Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market. During this time, he facilitated the preparations and negotiations for the Cybersecurity Act. He also served as a Member of Cabinet for Vice-President Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for Transport. Before joining the Commission, he was Director for EU affairs at the Government Office of Estonia and an EU adviser to the Prime Minister.

Antonia Meszaros
Antonia Meszaros

Managing Director United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 2014 European Young Leader

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Before becoming Executive Director of UNICEF Hungary in 2017, Antonia was a well-known Hungarian journalist, television presenter, author and documentary filmmaker. She has interviewed just about every EU politician that visited Hungary in recent years. She hosted Hungary’s main evening current affairs programme from 2007 to 2011, but was forced to leave the national public broadcaster MTV, along with thousands of colleagues after the new government “reorganised” public broadcasting and has been working at ATV, an independent news channel ever since. Antonia has participated in charitable projects and literacy campaigns aimed at helping the Roma population. For the last few years she has also been asked to head a Hungarian foundation recognising and rewarding journalistic achievements and organising events and workshops for media professionals. She is an English Literature graduate from ELTE University in Budapest.

Blazej Moder
Blazej Moder

Director, EC1 Lodz, 2014 European Young Leader

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Blazej is a Managing Director at the New Center of Lodz Authority which is one of the biggest urban, social, investment programs which is currently realised in Central Europe. He is in charge of transforming the city of Lodz – the 3rd largest Polish city – into a modern and knowledge-based metropolis focusing on the rebuilding of the old railway station and revitalising the urban area around the station (100 ha) to create a new multifunctional city centre. Blazej is also Advisor to the Board for International Affairs of the Civil Development Forum. He is an International and Political Studies graduate from the University of Lodz and a PhD student in Economics at the Warsaw School of Economics.

João Rodrigo Pinho de Almeida
João Rodrigo Pinho de Almeida

Member, National Parliament of Portugal, 2014 European Young Leader

Show more information on João Rodrigo Pinho de Almeida

Joao is involved in the Parliamentary Committees of Budget, Finance and Public administration. Previously, Joao served as Secretary of State of Internal Administration of the Portuguese government. Joao currently represents the CDS-PP political party as spokesperson in the Parliament, having previously served as Secretary General and President of the People’s Part Youth division, of which he is still the Honorary President. Locally, he was member of the municipal assembly of Sao Joao da Madeira. With a sound legal background, Joao was a consultant at PROLEGAL – Moser & Lobo d’Avila and an attorney at Alves Mendes, Jardim Goncalves & Associates. He is also passionate about sports, being the Director and Chairman of the Board of the “os Belenenses” professional football team and sports club.

Michał Szczerba
Michał Szczerba

Member of Parliament, Sejm, Poland, 2014 European Young Leader

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Michal is currently a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Polish Parliament and sits on the Justice and Human Rights Committee. Before he started working for the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, in 2007, he was the Representative of the Parliament to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and sat on the State Treasury Committee. Previously, Michal worked as an expert on EU funding for restructuring and modernising agriculture and was on the Wola District Council of Warsaw. In 2011, Michal received the Order of Honour from the President of the Republic of Georgia, and has been part of numerous leadership training programmes. He holds an MSc in Sociology from the University of Warsaw.

Photo of Irene Tinagli
Irene Tinagli

Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and European Young Leader Alumna

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Irene Tinagli is an Italian economist and politician who has been serving in the European Parliament since 2019. Before coming to Brussels, Tinagli was a Member of the Italian Parliament, sitting on the Committee on Public and Private Employment and on the Committee on Infancy and Childhood. She also taught Management and Organisation Design at the Carlos III University in Madrid and worked as an expert for the European Commission on creativity and innovation. In Italy, Tinagli served as an advisor to the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Justice.

Florian Zinoecker
Florian Zinoecker

Head of Corporate Governance & Internal Policies, European Stability Mechanism (ESM), 2014 European Young Leader

Show more information on Florian Zinoecker

Florian is Head of the corporate governance and internal policies division at the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), where he is responsible for the preparation of decisions and meetings of the Board of Governors (eurozone finance ministers), Board of Directors and Board of Auditors. He has worked in economic and financial affairs in the areas of central banking and monetary policy in various capacities including at the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Central Bank (ECB). He has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, as well as a Master’s in Advanced European Studies from the University of Vienna.

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Events

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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