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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.


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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Meet the EYL40

Martijn Arets
Martijn Arets

International expert and thinker in the field of emergence and development of the collaborative economy and 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’

Kirsten van den Hul
Kirsten van den Hul

Change Agent and Columnist, The Change Agent, 2013 European Young Leader

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Kirsten has been elected in the Dutch national Parliament in 2017. Prior to starting her political career, she was working as a ‘change agent’. As such she has been involved in a number of different change projects for companies and organisations such as Nike and Amnesty International. She is also a columnist for several Dutch newspapers on issues ranging from women’s rights to international relations. Trained as an Eastern Europe specialist, she has worked for several international NGOs, including international women’s fund Mama Cash and the European Cultural Foundation. After working as a Communication Officer for LPG multinational SHV Gas, Kirsten also worked as a Programme Coordinator for Cultuurfabriek, a communications and production agency. While there she set up WOMEN Inc., a platform for debate and interaction, and was also involved with several other social and cultural projects.

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Selection process

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 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 nominations and applications for the 2020 European Young Leaders class has passed. We are currently reviewing the candidates and aim to announce the 2020 class before the end of 2019. We will open the application and nomination period for the class of 2021 in the spring of 2020.

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