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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

Krzysztof Candrowicz
Krzysztof Candrowicz

Director, Foundation of Visual Education, 2012 European Young Leader

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Since 2014, Krzysztof has been the Director of the Triennial of Photography in Hamburg. He has also previously worked as the  Founder and Director of the Lodz Art Centre and the Foundation of Visual Education in the city of Lodz. The Foundation is responsible for the International Festival of Photography, held annually since 2001, which is one of the largest photographic events in Europe. As Director and Chief Curator of this event, Krysztof has established an association of 30 European festivals of photography, called ‘Photo Festival Union’. He is the creator of the Lodz-European Capital of Culture campaign. In 2008 he was named Lodz Citizen of the Year.

Elena Fenili
Elena Fenili

Head of Credit & Integrated risks initiatives, UniCredit, 2012 European Young Leader

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Elena is Head of Political Studies at UniCredit Group. She previously worked at the Italian Representation to the United Nations in New York, where she participated in negotiations on humanitarian issues and African conflicts during the 58th session of the General Assembly. In 2002, she worked at the General Management Office for Economic and Financial Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome. She is Treasurer of the RENA project (National Excellence Network) and an active volunteer in the Italian Children’s Hospital Association (ABIO). Author of various publications on subjects such as European economic growth, in 2010 she was included in the ‘Youth Talent’ list produced by the Italian Ministry of Youth.

Javier Gonzalez
Javier Gonzalez

Vice President of Bitext, 2012 European Young Leader

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Javier was until recently the international director of Digimarc, which develops solutions, licenses intellectual property, and provides development services to global business partners across a wide range of industries, focusing on delivering simplicity to users’ interactions with media and the physical world. Previously, he was founder and CEO of aquaMobile SL, a mobile value-added services provider based in Madrid, and one of the most successful digital watermarking solutions companies. He has also worked in management roles for various start-ups, such as Alvento and Mobile 365 Inc. He is Co-founder of the tMA Foundation, which encourages innovative and entrepreneurial projects in conjunction with MIT. Javier is a graduate from the Madrid Polytechnic University and ESCP Europe.

Jacek Legiewicz
Jacek Legiewicz

Head of Public Affairs at Samsung Electronics, 2012 European Young Leader

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In addition to his role as Public Affairs Director for Samsung, Jacek is a Member of the Supervisory Board for ElekroEko, which Poland’s largest organisation for the recovery and management of electronic waste and recycling. Jacek spent seven years at CEC Government Relations, the leading independent public affairs agency in Central Europe. In parallel to his corporate career, he has been active in the IT industry as Vice President of the Polish IT and Telecom Chamber and a Member of the Executive Board of Digital Europe. Jacek has also been active in local and national politics: he was a Parliamentary candidate in 1997 and former Advisor to the Minister of Youth and Family Affairs.

Christian Mandl
Christian Mandl

Managing Partner at Neulogy Ventures, 2012 European Young Leader

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Christian is the owner and Chairman of Maporama Solutions, a company specialising in the visualisation of enterprise data on maps. He became a well-known after co-founding Central Europe’s first low-cost airline, SkyEurope, in 2001. He took SkyEurope to the stock market in 2005, staying on to manage the firm until 2007 when he exited to focus on new ventures. He is also Managing Director of Danube Consulting, a company that provides advisory services to investors in Central and Eastern Europe. He is involved in the development of several projects, including the establishment of a venture capital fund to promote R&D in Slovakia, as well as renewable energy initiatives.

Raffaele Mauro
Raffaele Mauro

Managing Director, Endeavor Italy, 2012 European Young Leader

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Raffaele is Investment Manager at Annapurna Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on early stage investments in web services, mobile applications and digital technology. He holds a PhD in Economic History from Bocconi University and is Adjunct Professor at the Collegio di Milano, where he teaches courses on entrepreneurship, network economics and the social science of the Internet. He also advises the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy and is Co-founder of www.lospaziodellapolitica.com. He previously worked as an editor for Harvard Business Review’s Italian Edition and in various branches of Confindustria developing projects and conducting research related to emerging markets, entrepreneurship and corporate finance. He is also quite active in the public debate as a political blogger. He has received many awards and accolades including being accepted into the McKinsey EuroAcademy in 2008, and was chosen by the Italian government as one of the top 200 ‘national talents’ in 2010.

João Wengorovius Meneses
João Wengorovius Meneses

Secretary General, BSCD Portugal, 2012 European Young Leader

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João is the Secretary General of the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Portugal (BCSD Portugal), a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Global Network. Prior to assuming his current role, João held several roles in the public, private and non profit sectors. He served as Secretary of State for Youth and Sports in the Portuguese Government, had several roles in the Portuguese startup ecosystem (as head of Startup Discoveries, a venture capital fund, head of the REACTOR – Innovation Hub, and head of the Mouraria Creative Hub). He also served as director of GABIP Mouraria, a mission unit reporting to the mayor of Lisbon that led the rehabilitation of Mouraria – in the past a deprived area in the center of Lisbon, but also its most traditional and multicultural quarter. Finally, he’s the founder of HUB 2050, a consulting firm acting in the field of innovation for sustainability, and author of two books about management and innovation.»

Martin Ott
Martin Ott

EMEA Managing Director for We Company, 2012 European Young Leader

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Martin Ott is EMEA Managing Director for We Company. He was previously Managing Director Central Europe at Facebook, responsible for the development of Facebook’s business in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and Eastern Europe. With more than 15 years of leadership experience in the digital industry, he advises companies from start-ups to leading global brands on their growth opportunities in the digital world. Prior to joining Facebook in 2012, Martin built one of Europe‘s fastest growing payment unicorns as the Co-Chief Executive Office of Skrill Group in London. With 30M users, Skrill (formerly known as Moneybookers) was an early pioneer in offering global money transfer services. Previously the COO of Jamba/Jamster, he oversaw marketing, services and content as well as building and operating the consumer business, leading up to the groups’s acquisition by News Corporation. He also supports the board of trustees of AfriKids, a London headquartered NGO which supports sustainable development projects in Ghana.

Dominik Risse
Dominik Risse

Vice-President Colorant Additives Business, Lanxess, 2012 European Young Leader

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Dominik is Global Head of Marketing at LANXESS AG (Leverkusen, Germany), a leading global specialty chemicals group. Prior to this, he held various management roles in the chemical industry (LANXESS, Bayer) including a nearly 4 year assignment in Southeast Asia. His political record includes activities at both the regional and national levels for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), as well as for the Junge Union and the Wirtschaftsrat Deutschland (the Economic Council of the CDU). Dominik holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Bradford University School of Management and attended INSEAD’s Leadership Programme in Singapore.

Sara García Ruiz
Sara García Ruiz

Engineer, S.A. de Electronica Submarina (SAES), 2012 European Young Leader

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Sara is an engineer at S.A. de Electronica Submarina (SAES), a company specialised in submarine electronics and acoustics. Prior to this, she was a Member of the Murcian regional Parliament where she served as First Secretary of the Defense Committee as well as a Member of the Science and Innovation and Equality Committees. She has been a Member of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party since she was 16. She studied communications engineering and has worked in the defence policy sector. She stands for male-female parity in Spain’s politics and for the presence of members of parliament of all ages.

Aziz Senni
Aziz Senni

Founder and President, Alliance Transport et Accompagnement, 2012 European Young Leader

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Aziz is a young French entrepreneur, Founder and President of Alliance Transport et Accompagnement, a ‘collective taxi’ company for the region of Paris, and Founder and President of Business Angel des Cités, a social investment fund for the development of Parisian suburban areas. Aziz has published two books in France, the first on the ‘social glass ceiling’ entitled L’ascenseur social est en panne… j’ai pris l’escalier (The social elevator is broken, I took the stairs), and the second, Monte ton BIZ (Create your own business: 10 commandments of the entrepreneur coming from suburbs) on how to become a successful entrepreneur when coming from a under-privileged neighbourhood. He has received several awards from the French government including the Médaille de l’Assemblée nationale (the National Assembly Medal).

Farid Tabarki
Farid Tabarki

Founder and Director, Studio Zeitgeist, 2012 European Young Leader

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Farid is a researcher, writer, presenter and entrepreneur. He is the Founder and Director of Studio Zeitgeist, and as such coordinates research and develops projects on the local, national and European level. He also works closely with research institutes such as the Open Society Institute and the University of Amsterdam. Prior to this he was Editor in Chief and Presenter for Coolpolitics, a Dutch civic social organisation that encourages younger generations to shape their roles as citizens. In 2006, 2007 and 2010, he presented the parliamentary election edition of MTV Coolpolitics, featuring debates between leading politicians. He is also a member of numerous organisations, such as the Netherlands Architect Institute and the Foundation for Democracy and Media, and is involved in various initiatives such as co-hosting TEDx Rotterdam and advising the City of Belgrade on their European Centre for Culture and Debate

Mathieu Vedrenne
Mathieu Vedrenne

Chief Executive Officer, Société Générale Private Banking, 2012 European Young Leader

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Mathieu is Chief Executive Officer of Société Générale Private Banking Switzerland since 2012. Prior to this he was Chief of Staff to the CEO of Société Générale, one of the major banking services companies in Europe. He joined the company in 2001, after having worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for 3 years, and quickly climbed the professional ladder within the company. He was selected for the company’s Executive Programme for the top performing employees. He is a sponsor of the 2010-2012 HEC Entrepreneur Diversity Programme and is a Member of the Executive Committee of the Fondation Croissance Responsable (Responsible Growth Foundation).

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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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