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.

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Meet the EYL40

Photo of Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo
Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo

President, Libres e Iguales, 2013 European Young Leader

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Cayetana is a former Member of the Spanish Parliament (2008- 2011) and Vice-President of the Joint Committee for the European Union and a Member of the Justice and Constitutional Committees. She was also Deputy Speaker for the Partido Popular of Madrid and Director of the International Department of FAES Foundation. She was awarded the Silver Microphone of the Spanish Professional Association of Informants of Press, Radio and Television for her articles published in El Mundo. She holds a BA and a PhD in History from Oxford University.

Martijn Arets
Martijn Arets

International and independent platform expert, 2013 European Young Leader

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Martijn is an international expert and thinker in the field of emergence and development of the collaborative economy: sharing economy, gig economy, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. He spoke with over 500 representatives from platforms, government, trade unions and corporate organizations in 16 countries to explore the conditions under which platforms can contribute to a more inclusive society. As a bridge builder and independent professional outsider, he uses these insights and this network to get stakeholders together to address relevant issues in a constructive way. Martijn shares his knowledge in his blogs, books, as an advisor and keynote speaker. His background is in marketing and branding, and he has written the books ‘Brand Expedition, a journey visiting Europe’s most inspiring brands’,’Crowdfunding, beyond the hype’ and ‘Crowdfunding for Dummies’

Cristina Elena Batlan
Cristina Elena Batlan

Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Head of Design at Musette, 2013 European Young Leader

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Cristina is Founder, CEO and Head of Design at Musette, one of the leading fashion accessory companies in Romania. The brand is present all over the world, with stores in Paris, New York, Luxembourg, Beirut, Budapest, Bulgaria and Israel. In 2004, Cristina was named one of Romania’s “Top Successful Women” and obtained the Oskar Capital award in the “Promising Entrepreneur of the Year” category. In 2005 she launched a new brand, Cristhelen B, exclusive property of Musette. In 2011, she received the prestigious Entrepreneurship Prize at the Business Woman Gala and was named one of the 100 Romanian Successful Young Managers of the Year. She is also Founder of the Arena Leilor Foundation and a member of the International Dinners Club.

Remus Aurel Benta
Remus Aurel Benta

Chief Executive Officer at DAW Benta Romania, 2013 European Young Leader

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Remus is CEO of DAW Benta Romania, a leading company in the field of construction, transportation, real estate and property management. The Benta Group has extended its activities all throughout Eastern Europe and holds showrooms in over 40 different locations. Since 2001 Remus and the DAW Benta Group have been rewarded on numerous occasions with First Place in the Top Businesses and Businessmen lists of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 2011 Remus was listed as one of the top 500 wealthiest people in Romania by Forbes Magazine.

Selene Biffi
Selene Biffi

Founder & Executive Director at Plain Ink, 2013 European Young Leader

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Selene is the founder of several social ventures, including Plain Ink – free, educational comics created for children and communities in developing countries – and Youth Action for Change (YAC), high-quality, free, online courses for young change-makers in 130 countries. She has been a consultant, trainer and speaker for many organisations including the UN, Amnesty International, the World Bank, Oxfam, OSCE, the Council of Europe, Columbia University and Microsoft. She is now part of the Italian Economic Development Minister’s Taskforce on Innovative Startups. Selene is a member of RENA, an Italian association of young professionals promoting innovation, merit, youth empowerment and a new generation of local public policies. She holds a NOHA Master’s in International Humanitarian Action from UCD (Ireland) and diplomas from Harvard University and INSEAD Business School.

Steffen Bilger
Steffen Bilger

Parliamentary State Secretary Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Germany, 2013 European Young Leader

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Steffen has been a Member of the Bundestag since 2009 and Chairman of the North Württemberg district branch of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) political party since 2011. Steffen joined the CDU and the Young Union (youth section of the CDU/CSU) in 1996 and was elected Chairman of the Baden-Württemberg Land branch of the Pupils’ Union. At the Parliament he is a Member of the Committee on Transport, Building and Urban Development, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development and runs a study commission on growth, well-being and quality of life. He has also worked for the energy service company MVV Energiedienstleistungen GmbH in 2006. He holds a degree in law from Tübingen University.

Beata Bublewicz
Beata Bublewicz

Vice-Director at the Marshal Office of Warmia-Mazury Voivodeship, Poland, 2013 European Young Leader

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Beata has been a Member of the Polish Parliament since 2005 (for the party PO – Civic Platform). As a member of the International Affairs Committee she focuses on Polish-Argentinian, Polish-Indian and Polish-Israeli relations. Before devoting herself to politics, she worked as an entrepreneur for eight years during which she held the post of Manager at General Motors Poland and Opel Polska. Beata graduated from Warsaw University (in Applied Social Sciences) and Warmia-and-Mazury University (in Humanities). Outside of her political career, she founded the Marian Bublewicz Foundation which advocates improving access to education.

Steffen Burkhardt
Steffen Burkhardt

Director of the International Media Centre Hamburg, 2013 European Young Leader

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Steffen is Director of the International Media Centre Hamburg. He researches and teaches with a focus on media sociology, social media, privacy and public sphere. His current research includes the transformation of privacy as a consequence of the internationalisation and digitalisation of media. He is a Founding Member of the Global Communication Association and is associated with numerous international organisations and think-tanks. He is a member of the selection committee of the German National Academic Foundation and several trusts to promote press freedom, human rights and democracy.

Camille de Toledo
Camille de Toledo

Director, European Society of Authors, 2013 European Young Leader

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Camille is a European writer, creator and artist. He studied in Paris, at the London School of Economics, as well as in New York. He has published several novels, shorts and essays, such as The Inversion of Hieronymus Bosch (2005), Lives and Death of an American Terrorist (2007), and L’inquiétude d’être au monde (The Anxiety of Being in the World) (2012). In 2004, Camille won the Villa Medicis scholarship for his literary and video work. His short film, “Tango de Olvido”, was selected for the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. In 2008 he founded the European Society of Authors with other intellectual figures to promote a cultural Europe on the basis of what he coined a translation citizenship. He is the Chief Editor of www.ifverso.com and Chief Advisor of the “TLHUB.org” project, a multilingual translation platform.

Leendert de Voogd
Leendert de Voogd

Global Service Line Leader Social Intelligence Analytics at Ipsos, 2013 European Young Leader

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Leendert is Global Head of the Political and Social Practice of TNS, one of the world’s largest market research companies. From 2002 to 2007 he was Joint Managing Director of TNS Opinion, a co-ordination centre for multi-country studies based in Brussels. Leendert is a member of ESOMAR, a worldwide market, social and opinion research association. Over the last 15 years he has been in charge of the coordination of survey research in countries around the world for an important number of international institutions such as the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Parliament and the World Bank. He studied Political Science at Belgium’s Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) and also at Institut d’Etudes politiques / Sciences Po Paris.

Balazs Denes
Balazs Denes

Executive Director, European Liberties Platform (ELP), 2013 European Young Leader

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Balázs is a Hungarian lawyer and a human rights activist. In 1997 he joined the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the country’s leading civil liberties watchdog organisation, and after holding various positions he served as the HCLU Executive Director from 2004 to 2012. Since early 2013, he is Director of the European Civil Liberties Project at the Open Society Foundations. He is a founding member of many Hungarian NGOs, and serves on the board of the Common Sense for Drug Policy Foundation and the Melymosoly Foundation. He focuses on civil liberties, human rights, communication and NGO management issues. Balázs received his law degree in 1998 from ELTE University Budapest and is a 2003-2004 Columbia University/Global Network for Public Interest Law (PILnet) Fellow.

Rokhaya Diallo
Rokhaya Diallo

Co-founder, Les Indivisibles, 2013 European Young Leader

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Rokhaya is a human rights activist, journalist and Founder and former President of Les Indivisibles, a French organisation that uses humour and irony to fight racism. She is the Host and Co-Editor of “Egaux, mais pas trop” (Equal, but not too much), a series of reports on diversity issues in France. She has held several other noteworthy positions in the television field, basing her work primarily on social and political issues. In 2009, she co-directed the documentary Immigration, the words to tell it. Rokhaya has a Master’s in Marketing and Distribution in TV and Cinema Industry from the Sorbonne, a Master’s in Negotiation and Marketing and a Master’s in International and European Law. She is a published author and prolific conference speaker and is a member of several NGOs and organisations that base their work on social awareness. In 2012, she was awarded the “Award for Involvement against racism and discrimination” by COJEP International.

Ignacio Escolar
Ignacio Escolar

Founder and Director at El Diario, 2013 European Young Leader

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Ignacio is a journalist, political analyst and Founder and Director of www.eldiario.es, an online media political analysis site. Previously Ignacio founded and managed the well-known newspaper Publico. He also manages www.escolar.net, the most popular and widely read political blog in Spain, which was named best political and journalist blog of the year in 2008 and 2009. Ignacio is also the founder of Bitban, a technology and design consulting company for Internet media communication, working with clients all over the world. In 2009 he was awarded the José Manuel Porquet Journalism Prize, the Mujeres Progresistas Prize for declining to publish prostitution ads in Publico and the Nicolas Salmeron for Human Rights Prize.

Photo of Mary Fitzgerald
Mary Fitzgerald

Libya Analyst, Award-Winning Journalist, 2013 European Young Leader

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Mary is a journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She has worked on Libya since 2011 and lived there throughout 2014. Her work has appeared in publications including the Economist, Foreign Policy, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Financial Times and the Guardian. She has conducted research on Libya for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMED) among others. She is a contributing author to an edited volume on the Libyan revolution published by Oxford University Press. In her previous role as Irish Times foreign affairs correspondent, she reported from 40 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. She is a member of the Global Women’s Forum ‘Rising Talents’ network.

Nicola Formichella
Nicola Formichella

Local Authorities & Parliamentarian Affairs Councilior, Office of the Govenor of the Campania Region, 2013 European Young Leader

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Nicola is the Local Authorities and Parliamentarian Affairs Councillor for the Governor of Campania and the Deputy Head of Training for the national People of Freedom party (PDL). He is also CEO of the Buongoverno Foundation and of “Italianiinmente”, a business accelerator and incubator for Italian start-ups. He was until recently a Member of the Italian Parliament’s EU Policy Committee and Head of the PDL party. Nicola started his career in the media sector as a TV station journalist for which he became Director in 1999. After working as a Parliamentary assistant, Nicola decided to run for the 2008 state legislative elections in the Campania region and was elected Deputy. Nicola holds a degree in Political Science from the Luiss Guido Carli University of Rome and a Master’s in Legislative Studies from the Istituto per la Documentazione e gli Studi Legislativi (ISLE) in Rome.

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Selection process

Selection process

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.

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. 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 both applications and nominations for the class of 2020 has passed. We will open the application and nomination period for the class of 2021 in the spring of 2020.

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