About

This year’s EYL40 Class of 2023 includes award-winning investigative journalists, a mega-star of modern-day football, politicians from all levels of government and speakers of national parliaments, a male supermodel and philanthropist, renowned scholars, innovators leading the green digital transition, as well as creative tech-based healthcare professionals. Follow along as we reveal the new class on LinkedIn and Twitter from 31 January to 10 February!


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

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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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Continue to Meet the EYL

Meet the EYL40

Karima Delli
Karima Delli

French politician and Member of the European Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Karima Delli from the French party, Europe Écologie–Les Verts, is one of the youngest Members of the European Parliament. She is the ninth of thirteen children, and has written about her modest upbringing and its effect on her ecological commitments in her book, ‘La politique ne me fait pas perdre le nord’ (Politics have not made me lose sight of the North). First elected in 2009, Delli has remained a committed activist during her tenure though work at Jeudi Noire (Black Thursday), a group dedicated to helping young people find housing, and Sauvons les Riches (Save the Rich), which demands the introduction of a maximum European income. She is a member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and a substitute

Damien English
Damien English

Irish Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Since summer 2020, Damien has been Ireland’s Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail. He previously served as Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation. He was first elected in 2002, at the age of just 24, when he was appointed Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson for Arts, Sport and Tourism. He then became Deputy Spokesperson for Justice and Community Affairs and a member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly. He has also served as Deputy Spokesperson for Enterprise and Finance.

María González Veracruz
María González Veracruz

Former spokesman, Spanish Congress of Deputies and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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María is a Spanish politician who formerly served as a Member of the Congress of Deputies for the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE). María’s background is in biochemistry, having earned a degree in the subject with research experience in molecular genetics. She entered politics at an early age, becoming Secretary-General of the Young Socialists for the Region of Murcia in 2003, and was appointed Secretary for Housing and Quality of Life in the Federal Executive Committee of the party in 2007 when she was elected as Member of the Regional Assembly of Murcia. In the 2011 general election, María was elected to the Congress of Deputies, working as Secretary of Innovation and New Technologies in the PSOE Federal Executive.

Photo of Klen Jäärats
Klen Jäärats

Director for EU Affairs at the Office of the Prime Minister of Estonia and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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As Director of the EU Secretariat in the Estonian government, Klen coordinates and develops all EU policy and acts as the chief European affairs adviser to the Prime Minister. A career civil servant, Klen started out in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, rising quickly to the position of Head of the Refugees Department. In this capacity, he dealt with a variety of NGOs and international organisations including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He later moved to Brussels where he spent six years working at the Estonian Permanent Representation to the EU during which time he dealt with many issues related to the preparation, ratification and implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Ricardo Baptista Leite
Ricardo Baptista Leite

Founder and President of UNITE, Member of the Portuguese National Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ricardo is best known as a Member of the Portuguese Parliament where he currently serves as a member of the committee on health. He also founded the UNITE global network of parliamentarians committed to achieving political impact towards ending infectious diseases as a global health threat. He is a medical doctor with specific training in infectious diseases, having studied at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School, and has an active role on a number of scientific and advisory boards of health-related foundations and organisations – including his role as Head of Public Health at the Catholic University of Portugal.

Sander Loones
Sander Loones

Member of the Belgian Federal Parliament, former Member of the European Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Sander is a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. He was formerly a Member of the European Parliament with the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, and Vice President of Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (The New Flemish Alliance). In the European Parliament, Sander was Vice Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, and a member of Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Sander has previously worked for the Belgian Ministry of Interior Affairs in the migration office, and as a scientific researcher at the Law faculty of Catholic University Leuven.

Photo of Eva Maydell
Eva Maydell

President of the European Movement International, Member of the European Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Eva Maydell’s priorities focus on enhancing skills-creation and the use of innovation and technologies, supporting entrepreneurs and investments in Europe. In the European Parliament, she is a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy as well as the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. She is also a member of the Delegation for relations with Japan as well as the Delegation for relations with the US.

Eva is among the most active members of the European Parliament. Currently, she is EPP rapporteur on the Data Strategy. She was the main Parliament rapporteur on the Regulation on charges on cross-border payments as well as worked on several legislative files, part of the Digital Single Market Strategy – the e-Privacy Regulation, the Directive for the supply of digital content, the Regulation on portability, Digitising European industry and the European cloud initiative. She was also rapporteur for the EPP Group on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the New Skills Agenda and the Influence of technology on the future of the financial sector (FinTech).

Eva has been awarded the European Parliament’s MEP of the Year Award twice. She has also been
included in FT’s own ‘New Europe 100′ ranking of CEE’s emerging change-makers, European Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and others.

Sandro Mendonça
Sandro Mendonça

Fellow of The German Marshall Fund of the United States and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Throughout an extensive and wide-ranging career in international organisations and institutions, Sandro Mendonça’s work has focused predominantly on the economics of innovation and industrial strategies. Mendonça is a Fellow of The German Marshall Fund of the United States and was a Visiting Fellow at King’s College London. In addition to serving as a board member of the Portuguese Communications Regulator (ANACOM), Mendonça was a science officer at the official Ibero-American Programme for Science and Technology (CYTED).  He has published in major international journals and has taught doctoral programmes in mainland China, namely Guanzhou and Chengdu. Sandro’s research has been used by various international organisations, including the United Nations, the European Commission and the US Senate. Mendonça was named a European Young Leader (EYL40) in 2015.  

Michal Olszewski
Michał Olszewski

Deputy Mayor of Warsaw and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Michał Olszewski

Currently Deputy Mayor of Warsaw, Michał has spent the entirety of his professional life in public service. He was already working as a senior expert in the Office of the Committee for European Integration while studying International Relations at Warsaw University. Michał rapidly rose to become Head of the EU Funds Department for the City of Warsaw in 2007, and simultaneously became Chairman of the European Policy Commission in the Association of Polish Cities. Since 2013 responsible for metropolitan cooperation in Warsaw Functional Area and currently Chairman of Warsaw Metropole Association. Tirelessly devoted to improving the city of Warsaw, Michał sits on several municipal councils and associations including the Integrated Territorial Investments Committee and Labour Market Council, both of which he chairs.

Photo of Hanke Bruins Slot
Hanke Bruins Slot

Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Hanke Bruins Slot

Hanke is currently serving as the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations in the Dutch government. She is a former military officer, former vice-governor at the Province of Utrecht. As a member of the Dutch parliament, Hanke served as the Christian Democratic Appeal party’s spokesperson on health and defence issues, while also focusing on local government, medical law, psychiatry and sports. Prior to her career in politics, Hanke attended the Dutch Royal Military Academy (KMA), where she undertook officer training and specialised as an artillery commander. She went on to serve in Afghanistan as a tank platoon commander, where she was promoted to acting field officer, assisting the Director of Operations of the Land Forces Command Staff. She has also worked in the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations as a senior policy officer and is avid hockey player, who won the Rabobank Premier Division national indoor hockey championship in 2005.

Continue to Selection process

Selection process

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS/NOMINATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2024 IS NOW OPEN

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 1984).
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK, Ukraine 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, usually scheduled for March and September.

Please click HERE for the Selection Guidelines 2023 that will give you an idea of the process. The detailed Selection Guidelines 2024 will be made available shortly for download.

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

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