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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

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

Absi Abou Zaid

Founder & Chief Executive Officer Mavericks International School, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Seif is a social and policy entrepreneur, passionate about education and its relationship to governance. Seif co-founded the Agency for Development and Enhancement, which provides training for young people, and the Nabadat Foundation, a non-profit which aims to use technology to improve education to fight poverty and enhance political awareness. Seif is also the former CEO of Tahrir Academy, a blended learning platform that creates intellectually-stimulating learning experiences for more than 160,000 registered Egyptian and Arab learners. In 2015, he founded the Mavericks International School, which seeks to leverage innovative teaching methods and technology to develop the unique potential of its students.

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Alberto Alemanno

Founder and Chairman of the Good Lobby, Jean Monnet Professor in EU Law at HEC Paris, Global Clinical Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and European Young Leader Alumnus

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Alberto is an academic, author and activist. He’s currently Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris and Global Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Committed to bridging the gap between academic research and policy action, Alberto pioneered innovative forms of civic engagement and campaigning in the EU transnational space via his civic start up The Good Lobby. His last book, ‘Lobbying for Change: Find Your Voice to Create a Better Society’ provides a timely analysis and guide to levelling the democratic playing field by empowering ordinary citizens to speak up and inform policy decisions at local, national and international level. A Harvard graduate, he’s a regular contributor to Le Monde, Bloomberg, Politico Europe, Forbes, and Il Sole 24 Ore, and his scholarly and public interest work has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, the Financial Times as well Science and Nature.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé
Guillem Anglada-Escudé

Reader in Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London, 2018 European Young Leader

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Guillem is a well-known astrophysicist and scientist, who discovered the Proxima-b exoplanet orbiting Proxima-Centauri, our closest neighbouring star. He has conducted research in several countries and has been actively engaged with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency. In 2016, Nature magazine chose him as one of the ten most prominent scientists world-wide, and the same year he was also listed by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

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Eleni Antoniadou

Co-Founder of Transplants without Donors, 2017 European Young Leader

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Eleni has been working on artificial organ technology and regenerative medicine in hospitals across the world. After graduating in biomedicine, she participated in the first successful artificial trachea transplant operation on a late-stage cancer patient. She is also the co-founder of the London-based start-up Transplants without Donors, which aims to develop tissue-engineered organs that are transplanted into sick patients. Eleni also trained NASA astronauts in biomedical experimentation for the International Space Station (ISS). 

Alexander Betts
Alexander Betts

Professor of Forced Migration and Associate Head of the Social Sciences Division at the University of Oxford and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alexander is an award-winning British academic, whose research focuses mainly on the politics and economics of refugee assistance, with a focus on Africa. In addition to his academic work, Alexander leads the IKEA Foundation-funded Refugee Economies Programme. Previously, Alexander served as Director of the Refugee Studies Centre and co-authored Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System, which the Economist labelled as one of the Best Books of 2017. Alexander was also named a ‘top 100 global thinker’ by Foreign Policy. His TED talks have been viewed by over three million people.

Alex Budak
Alex Budak

Executive Director of the University of California, Berkeley, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Alex Budak is a serial social entrepreneur, Executive Director of the UC Berkeley Center for Reinventing Leadership, and a firm believer that anyone can be a changemaker. Alex co-founded, and now advises, StartSomeGood.com which has helped 700+ social impact organizations in 50+ countries raise $7M+. He is a mentor, coach and adviser to social entrepreneurs around the world, most recently running Scandinavia’s leading social impact incubator, Reach for Change, in Stockholm, Sweden. Alex has given talks on the topics of leadership and social innovation in venues ranging from Ukraine to Cambodia; LA to the Arctic Circle; and at both the World Bank and White House. His writing has been published in FastCompany, The Guardian and Huffington Post.

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Jane Burston

Managing Director of the Clean Air Fund, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Jane has dedicated most her life to climate and environmental issues, serving first as a strategic consultant on low carbon policy to the Mayor of London and is now running a world-class climate science and low carbon technology centre at the UK’s National Measurement Institute. In 2008, she founded Carbon Retirement, an award-winning social enterprise working with the EU ETS. Her dedication to sustainability and entrepreneurial drive was rewarded with being named as one of the ‘Top 30 UK entrepreneurs under 30’ by Real Business in 2010, a ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ by Square Mile in 2011 and one of the ‘Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons of the UK’ by the Chamber of Commerce International in 2015, among others.

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Thomas Dermine

Secretary of State for Recovery and Science Policy and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Thomas is a Belgian researcher and political advisor, currently heading l’Institut Emile Vandervelde, a research centre for the Francophone Social Democrat Party (PS). Well involved in the Belgian political environment, Thomas is also the Chief of Staff to Paul Magnette, chairman of the social democrat party. Aside to his political work, Thomas previously held a managing role at CATCH, a public start-up aimed at coordinating and accelerating local projects in and around Charleroi, an economically modest area in Belgium. Thomas is also an affiliate of the Harvard Government Performance Lab where he leads research on Social Impact and a lecturer at Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bak
Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bak

Associate, Ferdinand Lassalle Centre For Social Thought, 2018 European Young Leader

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Agnieszka is among Poland’s most recognised social activists and a strong advocate of women’s rights. In 2015, she was instrumental in leading demonstrations that became known as ‘Black Monday’, in which Polish women protested against anti-abortion laws. Days after Black Monday, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against the proposal and the Minister of Science and Higher Education Jaroslaw Gowin said the protests “caused us to think and taught us humility.” Agnieszka is a board member of the leftist Razem party and, in 2016, was listed as one of top 100 most influential Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Journal.

Henrik Enderlein
Henrik Enderlein

Director of the Jacques Delors Institute, 2014 European Young Leader

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Henrik is Professor of Political Economy at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. His research is on economic policy-making, European monetary integration, fiscal federalism, financial markets and financial crises. In 2003, Henrik was awarded the Max Planck Society’s Otto-Hahn Medal for outstanding achievements by young scientists and from 2006 to 2007, he was Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Duke University’s Political Science Department. He holds degrees from Sciences Po, Paris, the University of Bremen and Columbia University. He prepared his PhD in Political Science at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. Henrik has just returned from a year as Pierre Keller Visiting Professor at Harvard Kennedy School and the Weatherhead Center of International Affairs.

Alicja Gescinska
Alicja Gescinska

Philosopher, writer and TV host, 2019 European Young Leader

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Alicja is a Belgian-Polish philosopher who has oriented her career around questions of identity and freedom. A published academic and an accomplished author, her first and most well-known title, The Conquest of Freedom, was shortlisted for an array of literary prizes when it was published in 2011. In addition to having held the position of Research Associate at Princeton University, Alicja has lectured at Amherst College on topics such as philosophy of freedom, Islam in Europe and European politics. Returning to Belgium in 2016, she now leads the philosophical TV programme, Wanderlust, on the Canvas channel and contributes regularly to both Philosophy Magazine and the broadcasting company, VRT. Her debut fictional novel, A Kind of Love, won the ‘Debuutprijs’ in 2017.

Paolo Giordano
Paolo Giordano

Bestselling author, theoretical physicist and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Paolo is an award-winning Italian writer and theoretical physicist. His first novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, is a critically acclaimed worldwide bestseller, selling over a million copies and being translated into thirty languages. It also received an equally successful cinematic adaptation. Paolo also wrote the critically acclaimed The Human Body and Like Family. He has been widely recognised for his work and was the youngest winner ever of Italy’s most prestigious literary award, the Strega Prize, as well as the Premio Campiello, a highly competitive annual prize.

Edvard Glücksman
Edvard Glücksman

Impact Partnership Development Manager on Tevi Innovation, Impact and Business at University of Exeter, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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“Edvard is an environmental sustainability professional working for the University of Exeter, currently serving as the business-facing manager on Tevi, an ERDF-funded programme supporting SMEs in Cornwall to grow whilst contributing to the circular economy and environmental growth. Edvard recently spent three years as a senior environmental consultant with Wardell Armstrong, specialising in the environmental and social impacts of development projects in emerging economies in line with the standards of international financial institutions. He has previously held a number of roles at the interface of science
and society, having worked at the European Geosciences Union and the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. Edvard holds MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Oxford and undergraduate degrees from the University of St Andrews and McGill University.”

Matthew Goodwin
Matthew Goodwin

Professor, Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, 2018 European Young Leader

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Matthew, a political scientist by training, has tried to bridge the gap between academia and policy-making when it comes to topics such as radicalisation, extremism and integration. He is an outward-facing researcher who shares the view that social science should be as much about contributing to wider society as to the social sciences. Before his appointment as Professor of Politics and International Relations in Kent, he served as a member of the UK government’s working group on anti-Muslim hatred and spent twelve months on a full-time secondment in a central government department, working alongside policy makers on extremism and integration issues. Matthew also serves as co-editor of the Routledge book series on Extremism and Democracy and regularly contributes to news outlets such as The Guardian and Politico.

Kalliopi Kalaitzi
Kalliopi Kalaitzi

Physician Charité University Medicine, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Popi” currently lives in Germany where she works as a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. She aspires to become an expert in the field of anti-aging and age management medicine. Since the start of her university studies, Popi has worked and volunteered in a variety of NGOs to do with youth health and drug abuse. She later organised a special youth department in her local council when she served as the then youngest prefecture councillor ever to have been elected in Greece. She also held a variety of executive positions at the drug prevention centre, Serios, the Greek National Youth Council and the Cultural Union of Thessaloniki. Popi later spent four years as the Regional Commissioner of Lagkadas and is to this day the youngest person to have ever held the position.

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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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