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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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Meet the EYL40

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.

Balazs Denes
Balazs Denes

Executive Director, European Liberties Platform (ELP), 2013 European Young Leader

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Balázs is a Hungarian lawyer and a human rights activist. In 1997 he joined the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the country’s leading civil liberties watchdog organisation, and after holding various positions he served as the HCLU Executive Director from 2004 to 2012. Since early 2013, he is Director of the European Civil Liberties Project at the Open Society Foundations. He is a founding member of many Hungarian NGOs, and serves on the board of the Common Sense for Drug Policy Foundation and the Melymosoly Foundation. He focuses on civil liberties, human rights, communication and NGO management issues. Balázs received his law degree in 1998 from ELTE University Budapest and is a 2003-2004 Columbia University/Global Network for Public Interest Law (PILnet) Fellow.

Stefania Kapronczay
Stefania Kapronczay

Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, 2018 European Young Leader

Show more information on Stefania Kapronczay

Stefánia is a human rights activist working in the context of illiberal democracies. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the leading human rights NGO in Hungary that aims to increase awareness of fundamental human rights and that gives Hungarians the ability to enforce these rights when they are abused, especially by those in position of public power. Before the large-scale demonstrations in Budapest in 2017, HCLU was named as one of the three key civil organisations that need to be restricted in Hungary by the ruling FIDESZ party. Stefánia also co-chairs the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations. Lawyer by training, she has particular expertise on the reproductive rights of people with disabilities and is a passionate defender of the rights of vulnerable groups.

Sandor Lederer
Sandor Lederer

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

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Sandor is the Co-Founder and CEO of K-Monitor, a non-profit public funds watchdog based in Budapest. The NGO was founded to improve the current levels of transparency and the rule of law in Hungary. Civic participation and technology driven solutions are among the organizations key instruments. Beside K-Monitor’s tech focus, the organization is also active in anti-corruption advocacy and research. Sandor was contributing to the European Commission’s Anti-corruption Report as the Local Research Country Correspondent for Hungary. One of the recent projects K-Monitor has been working on is redflags.eu, a program that uses algorithmic indicators to analyze risky public procurements.

Bertalan Meskó
Bertalan Meskó

Founder, The Medical Futurist, 2019 European Young Leader

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Bertalan is a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in clinical genomics who designed his own profession of “medical futurist”. Struck by the challenge of filtering correct and reliable medical advice online, he founded the blog The Medical Futurist, where he covers technological developments before they get to market along with the possibilities and ethical challenges they present. Today, he has over 3 million readers and is seen as an internationally recognised leader in digital health. Bertalan has given over 500 presentations, including courses at Yale, Stanford and Harvard University as well as the Future med course organized by the Singularity University at NASA. Furthermore, Bertalan was featured by dozens of top publications, including CNN, the World Health Organization, National Geographic, Forbes, TIME magazine, BBC, and the New York Times.

Antonia Meszaros
Antonia Meszaros

Managing Director United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 2014 European Young Leader

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Before becoming Executive Director of UNICEF Hungary in 2017, Antonia was a well-known Hungarian journalist, television presenter, author and documentary filmmaker. She has interviewed just about every EU politician that visited Hungary in recent years. She hosted Hungary’s main evening current affairs programme from 2007 to 2011, but was forced to leave the national public broadcaster MTV, along with thousands of colleagues after the new government “reorganised” public broadcasting and has been working at ATV, an independent news channel ever since. Antonia has participated in charitable projects and literacy campaigns aimed at helping the Roma population. For the last few years she has also been asked to head a Hungarian foundation recognising and rewarding journalistic achievements and organising events and workshops for media professionals. She is an English Literature graduate from ELTE University in Budapest.

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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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