About

Ten years ago, motivated by the urgent need to tackle the increasing disconnect between citizens and policymakers, and to rebuild the trust that is vital to democracies, Friends of Europe crafted a leadership programme unlike any other: the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme. To celebrate the programme’s anniversary, we travelled through the past ten years to share ten inspiring stories.

Our anniversary celebration features volleyball player Valentina Diouf; Rokhaya Diallo, a journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist; Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange; renowned chef Eneko Atxa; serial entrepreneur Ivan Stefunko; bionic pop artist and futurist, Viktoria Modesta; Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas; Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke, CEO and Founder of Women’s WorldWide Web (W4); Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Bastian Obermayer; and Qëndron Kastrati, former mayor of Kamenica, Kosovo. Click here to learn more about our selection amongst 350+ wonderful profiles.


Bold leadership, ground-breaking ideas, unparalleled passion …

We’ve learned time and again that the challenges of the 21st century and of our ever complex world cannot be addressed using the rulebooks of the past. The world is screaming for a new type of leadership and a Renewed Social Contract in which the private sector, local and multilateral institutions, and citizens can collaborate and drive change.

Today’s leaders may look back in time for inspiration, but they must lead with innovation.

The European Young Leaders represent an alternative infrastructure of leadership – a new generation of leaders able to inspire action and generate change. Together, their passion, diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and innovative thinking create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.

Our European leaders are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs and astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by local and multilateral institutions, traditional political frameworks or bureaucracy. They provide alternative perspectives to EU decision-makers and challenge the status quo.

They help take Europe out of Brussels. In their own countries, cities and communities, the European Young Leaders also play an essential role in reconnecting people with and rebuilding trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole-of-economy, whole-of-society approach to progress more quickly. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and helping build a European identity.

The programme in the next years will take a new localism lens, bringing together these thinkers and leaders to act on some of the key issues affecting Europe’s future: supporting the green and digital transformation, strengthening our democracy, improving relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing and building a more diverse Europe.

Succeeding in these policies and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.


Tune in to the EYL40s on Friends of Europe’s podcasts

The Frankly Speaking Podcast - Iran: Unchallenged, till now

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The Frankly Speaking Podcast - Iran: Unchallenged, till now

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Episode 12. Frankly Speaking Podcast Series: Special Focus Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Episode 12. Frankly Speaking Podcast Series: Special Focus Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Everything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!

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Everything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!

Jane Burston

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Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

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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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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

Enass Abo-Hamed
Enass Abo-Hamed

Co-Founder and CEO of H2GO Power and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Enass is the Co-Founder and CEO of H2GO Power, an award-winning British company that develops hydrogen energy storage technologies. Her designs for a new energy storage system can guarantee stable supply of renewable energy for areas in developing countries with limited or no access to the electrical grid. With over a decade of both research and business experience in renewables and energy storage, Enass champions climate entrepreneurship and clean energy technology. She is currently a Member of the Advisory Board of General Atlantic’s BeyondNetZero $4bn equity growth climate fund, a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow and a technology consultant for the European Research Executive Agency. Enass has received several awards in recognition of her work, including the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Europe Visionary of the Year award and the Best Energy Start-up award at the Global Hello Tomorrow Summit.

Adwoa Aboah
Adwoa Aboah

Model, Founder of Gurls Talk and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A British feminist and activist, Adwoa has modelled for the likes of Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Fendi, and starred on the covers of international publications, including Vogue and i-D. She has also featured in short films, music videos and most recently, the Hollywood movie, “Ghost in the Shell”. Recognised as a Next Generation Leader on the cover of Time magazine, she has become among the most influential voices of her generation. Adwoa, having struggled with depression and addiction, recognised the lack of mental health resources for young women. This inspired her to launch Gurls Talk, a mental health organisation that offers young women a safe space to discuss a wide range of issues, including loneliness, body image and sexuality. Having started as an Instagram account, Gurls Talk has grown to include an online community, weekly podcast and live events in major cities, including London, Los Angeles, Accra and Warsaw.

Dawood Azami
Dawood Azami

Multi-Media Editor (News and Current Affairs) at BBC World Service and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Dawood is one of the most promising young journalists and scholars of his generation in the UK. He has been working for the BBC World Service in London as a Senior Broadcast Journalist and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster, where he teaches Globalization, Power and International Governance. He joined the BBC in 1998 and also worked as the BBC World Service Bureau Chief and Editor in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was also a visiting scholar at Ohio State University, USA. He holds three Bachelor’s and three Master’s degrees, including Science, Law, International Relations and Diplomacy. In 2010, Dawood became the youngest person to ever win the biggest award in the BBC, the “Global Reith Award for Outstanding Contribution”. He is also a poet/writer, calligrapher and painter/artist.

Alexander Betts
Alexander Betts

Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs at the University of Oxford and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Alexander Betts is a Professor of Forced and International Affairs at the University of Oxford, where is also the Associate Head of the Social Sciences and a Senior Fellow in Politics at Brasenose College. His research examines the political economy of refugee assistance, with a focus on Africa. Alexander also currently leads the IKEA Foundation-funded Refugee Economies Programme, which undertakes participatory research on the economic lives of refugees in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Prior to this, he served as director of the Refugees Studies Centre. Alexander has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian and is the author of “The Wealth of Refugees: How Displaced People Can Build Economies”, which explores policy solutions for the contemporary global refugee crisis.

Photo of Jane Burston
Jane Burston

Executive Director of the Clean Air Fund and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Jane has dedicated most of her life to climate and environmental issues. Before bringing together donors to set up the Clean Air Fund, Jane was head of climate and energy science in the UK government, where she was responsible for the UK greenhouse gas inventory and a £45m science programme. She also founded Carbon Retirement, an award-winning social enterprise working with the EU ETS. Additionally, she has led a team of 150 scientists working on energy and environment at the National Physical Laboratory. Her dedication to sustainability and entrepreneurial drive has been rewarded with being named as one of the ‘Top 30 UK entrepreneurs under 30’ by Real Business, ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ by Square Mile and one of the ‘Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons of the UK’ by the Chamber of Commerce International, among others.

Mihai Danila
Mihai Danila

Senior Investment Manager at the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Mihai is a value-oriented investor from the United Kingdom with extensive experience in the financial sector. He is the current Senior Investment Manager at Abu Dhabi Growth Fund. Previously, as Vice-President at BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, his work focused on event-driven and special situation investments in both public and private markets throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mihai is a former executive director in the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs, covering multi-billion transactions across Europe and the Middle East, prior to which he worked in mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley. Mihai is also a national contests laureate in piano, maths and business ethics.

Tishani Doshi
Tishani Doshi

Poet, Writer, Dancer and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Tishani is an Indian-Welsh dancer, poet and freelance writer. She is currently Visiting Professor of Practice, Literature and Creative Writing at New York University, Abu Dhabi. Otherwise based in Chennai, India, Tishani divides her time between dancing for one of India’s leading choreographers, Chandralekha, and writing pieces for publications such as The Guardian, Corriere della Sera, The New York Times, The Hindu, The National, India Today, Outlook, Tricycle, Vogue and Elle. Her written work has garnered various awards, including the prestigious Forward Prize (UK) for Best First Collection (2006) for her debut collection of poems, and she was selected to represent India at the 2012 Poetry Parnassus Cultural Olympiad in London. Her first novel, “The Pleasure Seekers”, was published to critical acclaim in 2010 and has been translated into multiple languages. Her latest book, “Everything Begins Elsewhere”, is a collection of poems and has been published in India, the UK and the USA.

Colum Eastwood
Colum Eastwood

Leader of the Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP) and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Colum is an Irish politician, who has been at the heart of the post-conflict success in Derry, the second largest city in Northern Ireland. He is currently the Leader of the SDLP and a member of the British parliament. Colum previously served as a member of parliament in the Norther Ireland Assembly, during which time he was appointed SDLP representative on the committee overseeing the work of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. He also sat on the Standards and Privileges and the Environment committees. Colum was elected Mayor of Derry at age 27, making him the youngest mayor to serve the city to date, prior to which he was on the Derry City Council. Throughout his career, Colum has championed Derry as a city of culture and continuously stood against dissident republican violence, calling for an end to terrorist activities by armed groups.

Photo of Myriam François
Myriam François

International News Correspondent, TRT World and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Myriam is an academic, broadcaster and writer specialising in issues related to Islam and the Middle East. She is a regular contributor to the Middle East Eye, the New Statesman and the Telegraph. In 2014, she broke a headline story on an exclusive 36-page document written by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Al-Qaeda militant behind the 9/11 attacks. Since then, she presented two BBC documentaries, ‘The Muslim Pound’ (2016) and ‘A Deadly Warning: Srebrenica Revisited’ (2015) nominated for the Sandford St Martin religious programming award. Myriam is also a Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies at SOAS University, where she focuses on British-Muslim integration issues. She recently completed her doctorate at Oxford University on the subject of Islamic political movements in Morocco.

Joss Garman
Joss Garman

UK Programme Director at the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Joss Garman is a British environmental and humanitarian campaigner, who currently works as the UK Programme Director for the European Climate Foundation, where he oversees the organisation’s strategy and grant-making in Britain and advises the organisation on its broader European and international strategies. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and also sits on the boards of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and GreenerUK, a coalition of the UK’s largest environmental NGOs. His previous roles include associate director for energy and climate change at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), political advisor to the Labour Party and chief advisor for the British Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. He has also held several senior positions at Greenpeace UK, including political director, head of media and head of the energy and climate campaign. During his time at Greenpeace, Joss co-founded the direct action group, Plane Stupid, and acted as an advisor to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and UNICEF.

Matthew Goodwin
Matthew Goodwin

Professor, Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Luke Graham
Luke Graham

Special advisor on the Union to the UK government and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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In his current position as special advisor to the UK government under Boris Johnson, Luke works on fostering greater unity amongst the different countries of the United Kingdom. He was previously a member of parliament for the Conservative Party and served as the parliamentary private secretary to the Cabinet Office. Before entering politics, Luke worked in the private sector as an accountant for over a decade. Upon returning from five years abroad in China, Thailand and the United States, he campaigned for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom. He also notably took on the role of finance director for Stronger In, the official Remain campaign during the Brexit referendum. 

Photo of Ben Hammersley
Ben Hammersley

Founder of Hammersley Futures and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ben is a British writer and technologist, specialising in the effects of the internet and the ubiquitous digital network on the worldʼs political, cultural and social spheres. He enjoys an international career as a speaker, explaining complex technological and sociological topics to lay audiences and as a high-level advisor on these matters to governments and business. He is currently a Robert Schuman fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, an Innovator in Residence at the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies at Goldsmiths, University of London, a non-resident fellow of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C., a member of the European Commission High Level Group on Media Freedom and contributing editor of the UK edition of WIRED magazine. He is the accredited inventor of the word “Podcast”, published in The Guardian (2004).

Photo of Mehdi Hasan
Mehdi Hasan

Journalist, Broadcaster and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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An award-winning journalist and political commentator, Mehdi is the host of The Mehdi Hasan Show on Peacock and MSNBC, and the presenter of the Head to Head, The Café and UpFront shows on Al Jazeera English. Prior to this, he hosted The Intercept’s Deconstructed podcast and was the political editor at Huffington Post UK. At the start of his career, Mehdi worked as a researcher and producer for several programmes on London Weekend Television (LWT), BBC One, Sky and Channel 4. He has been named among the 100 most influential Britons on Twitter and was included in the annual global list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. Mehdi is also the recipient of the British Muslim Award’s Services to Media award. In addition to having authored a book on debt and the 2008 financial crisis, Mehdi is the co-author of a biography of the former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

Hera Hussain
Hera Hussain

Founder of CHAYN and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Hera Hussain

Hera is the Founder and CEO of CHAYN – a global non-profit that creates resources on the web to address gender-based violence. CHAYN’s multilingual resources, designed with, not for survivors, have reached more than 500 000 people. Raised in Pakistan and living in the UK, Hera committed early to tackling violence against women. She believes in using the power of open-source technology, trauma-informed design and hope-filled framing to solve the world’s pressing issues. Hera is an Ashoka Fellow, and was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 and MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 list.

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Events

Continue to Selection process

Selection process

APPLICATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2023 ARE NOW CLOSED.
NOMINATIONS FOR UKRAINIAN NATIONALS* ARE OPEN UNTIL 24 JUNE 2022

The European Young Leaders programme is a unique, inventive, and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future.

The European Young Leaders represent a new generation of European leaders from all over the continent and various backgrounds, including politics, business, civil society, academia, arts, science, and the media.

The programme acts as a forum for those who have already established themselves at the forefront of their professions to meet, discuss and collaborate with their counterparts from other fields of expertise. Previous candidates include government ministers, CEOs, Michelin-starred chefs, international film directors and high-profile journalists.

Since the launch of the programme, 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.

We aim to select 40 European Young Leaders of diverse backgrounds to enable a broad exchange of ideas, creating the basis for a new generation of engaged European leaders.

 

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1983).
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path towards EU integration (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo**, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia).
  • Candidates should have established themselves at 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 of the two EYL seminars during the programme year.

Please click HERE for the detailed Selection Guidelines 2023.

Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at eyl40@friendsofeurope.org.

*The current crisis has prompted us to open up the programme to Ukraine as a pilot initiative. In future years we hope to find a way of including more people who are not EU nationals/citizens but are contributing positively to current Europe (e.g., candidates from our neighbourhood countries and refugees).
**References to Kosovo here 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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