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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

Leading view

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

Photo of Malcolm Byrne
Malcolm Byrne

Head of Communications at the Irish Higher Education Authority, 2014 European Young Leader

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Malcolm is Head of Communications with the Higher Education Authority, the Irish state agency that advises government on higher education and research and funds the higher education institutions. He is also a councillor and former mayor for the centrist Fianna Fail party. He has previously served as Vice-President of the National Youth Council of Ireland, as Education Officer with the Union of Students in Ireland, as an Executive member of the European Students Union and as Youth Spokesperson for the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe. He previously worked as commercial manager of myhome.ie, Ireland’s most successful property website and as chief executive of a national children’s organisation. A graduate in law and arbitration from University College Dublin, Malcolm is currently completing a Doctorate in Governance at Queen’s University Belfast. He has completed 26 marathons.

Ciara Clancy
Ciara Clancy

CEO of Beats Medical, 2017 European Young Leader

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Ciara is a chartered physiotherapist and experienced researcher passionately dedicated to improving the management and treatment of people with neurological conditions. At the age of 22, she launched Beats Medical, a medical application available on smartphones, which aims to help people with Parkinson’s disease take control of their condition through technology. Ciara received the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists Anne O’Brien Prize for Clinical Excellence and the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award.

Photo of John Collison
John Collison

Co-Founder and President of Stripe, 2018 European Young Leader

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John Collison is president and co-founder of Stripe, the software company that is expanding internet commerce by making it easy to process transactions from anywhere. John and his brother Patrick started Stripe in 2010 while John was studying physics at Harvard. Their goal was to make accepting payments online simpler and more inclusive, after learning firsthand how difficult it was. Today, the 1700-person and growing Stripe team powers online businesses around the world. Prior to Stripe, John co-founded Auctomatic, which was acquired by Live Current Media in March 2008. Originally from Limerick, Ireland, John lives in San Francisco, California, where Stripe is based.

Damien English
Damien English

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Damien is Ireland’s Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation for the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party. He was first elected in the 2002 general election at the age of 24, when he was appointed party deputy spokesperson for Arts, Sport and Tourism. In October 2004, he became Deputy Spokesperson for Justice and Community Affairs with special responsibility for Drugs, Alcohol and Crime Prevention. From 2002-2007, Damien was a member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. He has also served as Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson for Enterprise with special responsibility for Small Business and Labour Affairs from 2007 to 2010, and from 2010 to 2011 was party Deputy Spokesperson for Finance with special responsibility for Banking and Credit.

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.

Oisin Hanrahan
Oisin Hanrahan

Co-Founder and CEO of Handy, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Oisin became an entrepreneur at the age of 18, when he set up the Clearwater Group, a real estate development company in Budapest while a student at Trinity College, Dublin. Oisin founded Handybook in May 2012 with Umang Dua to address the difficulty of finding a reliable handyman that Oisin experienced in Budapest. Oisin also established MiCandidate, which became the leading source for online election information across Europe in 2009, and set up the Undergraduate Awards, which has become the world’s largest pan-discipline awards programme. Supported by Google, Microsoft and others, it is a global annual awards event hosted in Dublin with the award distributed each year by the President of Ireland. In 2019 Oisin became Chief Product Officer for ANGI Homeservices which operates HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List and other brands.

Daire Hickey
Daire Hickey

Managing Partner at 150 Bond & Co-Founder of the Web Summit, 2018 European Young Leader

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Daire is the Managing Partner at 150 Bond, a strategic advisory firm, and one of the co-founders of the Web Summit, Europe’s largest tech start-up event and the largest technology conference in the world. In this role, he has facilitated a number of tech conferences in the United States and Europe. Daire is also a former journalist, who has worked for the Irish broadcaster RTE and several Irish newspapers. Former journalist and columnist, Daire is an active angel investor and a member of several company advisory boards.

Photo of Una Mullally
Una Mullally

Writer and LGTBQ activist, 2019 European Young Leader

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A leading voice on LGBTQ rights and politics, Una is one of Ireland’s most reputable young activists. As a journalist, broadcaster and author, she has written for prominent news outlets such as The Guardian and the Sunday Tribune, in addition to contributing a weekly column to the Irish Times. Her two books, In The Name Of Love, and her anthropology, Repeal the 8th, trace the historical developments which culminated in the two separate referenda on marriage equality and reproductive rights in Ireland. She was the Independent Chair of Ireland’s National 2018 LGBTI+ Youth Strategy, which is the first of its kind. A poet and screenwriter, she has authored the documentary, I Am Irish, co-founded a music documentary film festival, co-created the pro-choice podcast, Don’t Stop Repealin’, and co-founded the Irish Times Women’s Podcast.

Photo of Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin
Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin

Lecturer at the University College Dublin School of Mathematics and Statistics, 2017 European Young Leader

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Over the past ten years, Aoibhinn has promoted mathematics and science with a particular focus on encouraging more girls to study these subjects. She lectures at University College Dublin as part of a programme that addresses the growing need for qualified mathematics and science teachers in post-primary schools. In 2011, she was awarded the prestigious Ussher Fellowship from Trinity College Dublin for her doctoral thesis on mathematics teacher learning. Named as one of the Top 50 Women in Science in Ireland by Silicon Republic, she is renowned for her role as a science communicator and for promoting STEM subjects in Ireland through various media outlets, including radio and TV. In 2005, she won the Rose of Tralee contest, an international festival celebrated by Irish communities all over the world.

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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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