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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 Mette Abildgaard
Mette Abildgaard

MP, group chair and political spokesperson for Conservative Party in Denmark, 2019 European Young Leaders

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In 2015, Mette became one of the youngest individuals to be elected Member to the Danish Parliament. Representing the Conservative People’s Party, she serves as the spokesperson for healthcare, environment, climate and the Danish constitution. In 2016, she was appointed as group chair and political spokesperson, a promotion which made her the youngest person to hold this position in the history of the Conservative People’s Party. Before being elected to the parliament, Mette served as a Member of the Regional Council of the Capital Region of Denmark and worked as a volunteer for the Danish Cancer Society. In addition to these posts, Mette has served on the board of the Metropol College of Higher Education

Photo of Inés Arrimadas García
Inés Arrimadas García

Leader of the Opposition in the Catalan parliament, 2017 European Young Leader

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Inés started her career in the private sector working for an industrial services company. In 2010, she attended a Ciudadanos rally with a friend and joined the party shortly afterward as the youth section spokesperson. In 2012, she was elected to the Catalonian Parliament as deputy spokesperson. She sat on the Committee on Business and Employment where she focused on socio-economic issues, such as the fight against inequalities and unemployment. Throughout her mandate, she was actively involved in different programmes at local, regional and national level. In 2015, she was appointed Leader of the Opposition as Ciudadanos climbed to second place in the Catalan parliamentary election

Photo of Ida Auken
Ida Auken

Member of the Danish National Parliament, 2012 European Young Leader

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Ida became the Danish Minister for the Environment in October 2011, having been a Member of Parliament and spokesperson on environmental issues for the Danish Socialist People’s Party since 2007. She is well known in Denmark for her work on renewable energy, green cities and environmental protection. Ida studied theology and is also a priest who has written several books on the relationships between theology, politics and society.

Clément Beaune
Clément Beaune

Europe and G20 Advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron, 2019 European Young Leader

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Clément Beaune is the Europe and G20 advisor to French president Emmanuel Macron, shadowing him during meetings with other European state heads. His presentations on Europe even when he was still in school were so accomplished that they were widely shared. Clément became Macron’s Europe adviser when Macron was still economy minister. Beaune advised Macron, helping him craft the push against Chinese steel dumping that is now at the heart of the president’s broader vision for a more defensive EU trade policy. The French president’s proposals during his En March Campaign for European Union reform were clearly influenced by his adviser.

Photo of Jávor Benedek
Jávor Benedek

Vice Chair of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, 2012 European Young Leader

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Benedek Jávor is an active environmentalist and founding member of the Dialogue for Hungary party (PM). Prior to joining the European Parliament, he was an elected member of the Hungarian National Assembly and the leader of the Hungarian opposition party Lehet Más a Politika (Politics Can Be Different). As a former professor and lecturer on environmental law, Jávor founded the environmental Védegylet (Protect the Future), in order to “raise awareness on global environmental threats” and has authored several articles and publications on sustainable development.

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.

Franziska Katharina Brantner
Franziska Katharina Brantner

Member of the German Bundestag, European Young Leader Alumna

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Franziska Katharina Brantner is a German politician. Since 2013, she has been Member of the German Parliament for the Green Party where she has served as Chairwoman of the parliamentary Sub-Committee for Civilian Crisis Prevention and as member of the Committee on Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Previously, she was a Member of the European Parliament where she worked, amongst other topics, on foreign affairs, security and defence issues. As such, she was member of the Peace and Security Commission of the Green national party and one of the authors of the party’s manifesto for the European election in 2009.

Photo of Kirsten Brosbøl
Kirsten Brosbøl

Obama Foundation Scholar, former member of the Danish Parliament and minister for the environment, 2017 European Young Leader

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Kirsten has represented the Social Democrats in the Danish Parliament since 2005. She was a rapporteur on research and higher education as well as on gender equality and food. She was appointed as Denmark’s Minister of the Environment in 2014, in the government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt. In that position, she facilitated the development of sustainable solutions and contributed to the development of industrial growth and workplaces in Denmark. In the 2015 general election, she was re-elected to the Danish Parliament. Kirsten is the co-founder of the Bilateral Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The network operates across party lines in the Danish Parliament to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights at a national and international level.

Ruth Ellen Brosseau
Ruth Ellen Brosseau

Member of the Canadian National Parliament, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Ruth Ellen is a Member of Parliament in Canada. Since her surprise election, she has quietly evolved into an effective and highly regarded politician. During the 42st Canadian Parliament, she was the Deputy agriculture critic in Thomas Muclair’s shadow cabinet and the New Democrat Party’s Vice-Chair. She has extraordinary grit and determination, ferocious work ethic and humility. At 16, she got pregnant, continued to attend school, earned her high school diploma and went to college in Kingston Out. Always considered as the ultimate black horse, she is a feminist, and an advocate for reproductive choice and affordable day care. Since the 2011 federal election, she represented the riding of Berthier-Maskinonge in the Canadian House of Commons. She became a popular local MP and won re-election in the 2015 federal election. She thought of becoming the lead of the NPD but during the summer of 2016, she finally decided to give more care to her family life and defend the interest of her riding.

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.

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.

Photo of Fjoralba Caka
Fjoralba Caka

Albanian Deputy Minister of Justice and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Fjoralba is the Albanian minister covering European integration and anti-corruption policies. Having started her career as an academic teaching EU Law, she has maintained an ongoing cooperation with civil society organisations. She also served as a lawyer on issues related to strategic litigation and offered legal aid for people in need and for marginalised communities. In addition, she has led projects focusing on youth and national anti-corruption campaigns, including “Fighting Corruption in the Higher Education System” and “Bookworm Project – outdoors mini-library”.

Mila Carovska
Mila Carovska

Deputy President of the North Macedonian government and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Mila is a North Macedonian politician that has been in government since 2017. Mila is an avid promoter of human rights whose professional career to date has been marked by a commitment to social work on behalf of the most vulnerable and threatened citizens, whether it be Roma, disadvantaged youth, drug addicts, victims of domestic violence and so on. Projects she has managed over the years include organising drama workshops with children housed in institutions, hosting educational workshops, offering consultations for drug users and their families, and conducting field research. Mila has used her platform as Minister to advocate for gender equality, the elimination of violence against women, and anti-discrimination.

Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen
Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen

Chess grandmaster and MP in Lithuania, 2019 European Young Leader

Show more information on Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen

Viktorija serves as a Member of the Lithuanian Parliament for Liberalai. Given the fact that she started her career as a professional chess player, her entry into politics came about relatively recently. She was the European Women’s Champion in 2011 and is a two-time Lithuanian Champion. Her decision to undergo a career change followed her realisation that she wanted to contribute to society on a more political level. She succeeded in being elected to the parliament in 2015 and became Chair of the liberal fraction in 2018. In the parliament, Viktorija is a Member of the Committee on Human Rights and the Committee on European Affairs.

Karima Delli
Karima Delli

French politician and Member of the European Parliament, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Karima Delli from the French party, Europe Écologie–Les Verts, is one of the youngest Members of the European Parliament. She is the ninth of thirteen children, and has written about her modest upbringing and its effect on her ecological commitments in her book, ‘La politique ne me fait pas perdre le nord’ (Politics have not made me lose sight of the North). First elected in 2009, Delli has remained a committed activist during her tenure though work at Jeudi Noire (Black Thursday), a group dedicated to helping young people find housing, and Sauvons les Riches (Save the Rich), which demands the introduction of a maximum European income. She is a member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and a substitute

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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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