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

Frankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now

Leading view

Frankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now

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Frankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans

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Frankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans

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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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Meet the EYL40

Sophia Bendz
Sophia Bendz

Partner at Cherry Ventures and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Sophia is a Swedish entrepreneur, currently working with Cherry Ventures, a Berlin-based venture capital fund. She focuses on seed-stage investments in successful and sustainable businesses. Now an advisor, she previously worked as Partner at Atomico working on Nordic sourcing activities. Here, she advised founders on communications, marketing strategies as well as on opportunities to scale up their brand. As Global Marketing Director at Spotify from 2007-2014, she established a strong consumer brand from scratch, while launching and marketing the service globally. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the non-profit organisation, Race For The Baltic, and the Viktor Rydberg School Foundation

Edvard Glücksman
Edvard Glücksman

Partnerships Manager for International Clean Growth and Net Zero at the University of Exeter and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Edvard Glücksman

Edvard is an environmental sustainability professional working at the University of Exeter, currently serving as the business-facing manager on Tevi, a programme funded by European Regional Development Fund which supports the growth of SMEs in Cornwall with a focus on 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 also 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.

Claudia Olsson
Claudia Olsson

Founder and CEO of Stellar Capacity and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Claudia Olsson

Claudia is the Founder and CEO of Stellar Capacity, a global educational platform, which trains and empowers leaders and professionals to drive digital change through various programmes on business and operational models, the impact of digital developments, as well as digital skills and productivity. The platform operates under Exponential AB, a global consultancy also founded by Claudia, where she previously served as CEO. Exponential AB specialises in strategic advice, analysis and progression development related to personal leadership and digital transformation. Claudia has helped governments and businesses alike understand the impact of new technologies and smart solutions in addressing global challenges. She authored the strategic innovation agenda for the Swedish steel and metal industry, as well as the Sweden 2030 Future Scenario for the Government of Sweden. Claudia has previously worked on issues related to healthcare access, having established and manages ACCESS Health International, a think tank which promotes access to high quality and affordable health care for all.

Nina Rawal
Nina Rawal

Founder of Emerging Health Ventures and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Nina Rawal

Nina is the founder of a venture capital fund focused on affordable medicine and medical products. Prior to her current role, Nina was the head of life science at the Swedish Industriaal Development Fund, a €500mn venture capital fund, where she was responsible for international business development in early life science companies. She has also previously served as the head of strategy and ventures at Baxter Group, formerly Gambro, a leading global medical technology company. Nina sits on the boards of MedCap AB and Stockholms Sjukhem, a non-profit hospital. In recognition of her work, Nina was selected among the Women’s Forum Rising Talents in 2012.

Johannes Schildt
Johannes Schildt

Co-Founder and CEO of KRY/LIVI and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Johannes Schildt

Johannes Schildt  is a Swedish serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of KRY/LIVI, which he plans to develop into the world’s leading healthcare provider by combining medical expertise with state-of-the-art technology. Currently available in Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the business has pioneered the digital healthcare model by enabling people to see a medical doctor or a psychologist via remote video connection, thereby replacing the need for in-person consultations. To date, the app has delivered over two million appointments and is set to launch in more markets this year. Long part of Europe’s start-up scene, Schildt has also founded a number of other initiatives, including Tieday Group and Wowallets.

Caroline Walerud
Caroline Walerud

Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of AirForestry and Volumental, and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Caroline Walerud

Caroline is a Swedish entrepreneur at the helm of deep tech and green tech start-ups. She co-founded AirForestry to reinvent sustainable forestry by enabling better biodiversity, gentler thinning and higher uptake of carbon dioxide through the use of electric drones. She is also the Co-Founder of Volumental, using 3D scanning and AI to shape a future free from sizes and creating a world where every body fits, and a Partner at Walerud Ventures, a pre-seed investment firm with a focus on green tech start-ups. Having advised the Swedish government on its start-up policy, she continues to promote entrepreneurship as a Member of the Sting Incubator Advisory Board, Prince Daniel’s Fellow and mentor at Creative Destruction Lab, a deep tech incubator. Caroline has been named the Swedish Supertalent of the Year and among Sweden’s top serial entrepreneurs under 40 by the country’s Business Week magazine.

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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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