Ida became the Danish Minister for the Environment in October 2011, having been a Member of Parliament and spokesperson on environmental issues for the Danish Socialist People’s Party since 2007. She is well known in Denmark for her work on renewable energy, green cities and environmental protection. Ida studied theology and is also a priest who has written several books on the relationships between theology, politics and society.
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
Leading viewFrankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now
Leading viewFrankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans
Leading viewEverything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!
Leading viewJoss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?
Leading viewUna Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change
Meet the EYL40
Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou is a Member of the Hellenic Parliament, where she chairs the Environment Committee. She is also the Director of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology and an attorney-at-law, specialising in international, European and environmental and climate law, as well as international investment law. She has previously served as vice-chair of the Global Water Partnership Organization. Dionysia-Theodora is a leader in environmental and humanitarian activities and has been the recipient of several international awards, including the Global Citizenship Award for Leadership in Assisting Humanity by Orphans International Worldwide and the Green Star Award by UNEP, OCHA and Green Cross International for her contributions in the preparedness and reconstruction in cases of natural disasters.
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.
Katharina is the Chief Innovation Officer at Mozilla Foundation. She is a German journalists and previously was the managing director of Spiegel Online, the leading German news web site, where she was responsible for the commercial aspects and the long-term strategic development of the company. Previously she was editor-in-chief and Online Director of the WAZ Media Group, and was an independent writer focusing on technology and the socio-political implications of the digital age. She became one of the best known German-speaking bloggers, winning several awards, including ‘Young Journalist of the Year’ in 2006. She has also participated in humanitarian work in Africa and Bosnia.
Franziska is a German politician, who currently serves as Parliamentary State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. She is also the ministry’s Special Coordinator for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Prior to this, Franziska was a member of the Bundestag, and a member the European Parliament, where her work focused on foreign affairs, conflict resolution and rapid crisis response. She also conducted negotiations on the reform of the European External Action Service. Before entering politics, Franziska worked for the Bertelsmann Foundation and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
Since 2014, Krzysztof has been the Director of the Triennial of Photography in Hamburg. He has also previously worked as the Founder and Director of the Lodz Art Centre and the Foundation of Visual Education in the city of Lodz. The Foundation is responsible for the International Festival of Photography, held annually since 2001, which is one of the largest photographic events in Europe. As Director and Chief Curator of this event, Krysztof has established an association of 30 European festivals of photography, called ‘Photo Festival Union’. He is the creator of the Lodz-European Capital of Culture campaign. In 2008 he was named Lodz Citizen of the Year.
Elena is Head of Political Studies at UniCredit Group. She previously worked at the Italian Representation to the United Nations in New York, where she participated in negotiations on humanitarian issues and African conflicts during the 58th session of the General Assembly. In 2002, she worked at the General Management Office for Economic and Financial Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome. She is Treasurer of the RENA project (National Excellence Network) and an active volunteer in the Italian Children’s Hospital Association (ABIO). Author of various publications on subjects such as European economic growth, in 2010 she was included in the ‘Youth Talent’ list produced by the Italian Ministry of Youth.
Javier is an entrepreneur and founder of a number of award-winning technology start-ups, which have been backed by top venture capital funds and multinational corporations. Javier is currently a shareholder and board member of several tech companies, prior to which he was the international director of Digimarc Corporation and served in management roles for various start-ups, including Alvento and Mobile 365 Inc. He founded aquaMobile SL, a mobile value-added services provider based in Madrid, which became one of the most successful digital watermarking solutions companies during his time as CEO. He is also the co-founder of the tMA Foundation, which encourages innovation and entrepreneurial projects in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and operates FabLab León, a member of MIT’s FabLab Network and host of the Fab Academy training program.
In addition to his current role at the Festival de Marseille, Jan is the Co-Artistic Director of L’Art Rue and its Dream City festival in Tunis, which promote access to culture and the democratisation of the arts. He also leads the ‘Brussels 2030’ project, the city’s bid to be named the European Capital of Culture. During his time as the director of the Festival de Marseille, Jan received the Chevalie de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture for his contribution to the arts. He is also the former artistic director of the Royal Flemish Theater (KVS), which became a key cultural organisation in Brussels under his leadership.
Alina is a Romanian lawyer and politician who is actively engaged in the local life of the city of Bucharest. In addition to being a lawyer and mediator in criminal investigations she is also former a Member of the Chamber of Deputies in the Romanian Parliament where she acts as Secretary for the Legal, Disciplinary and Immunities Committee. She studied Law, Administration and Political Science at well-known Romanian universities, and she is currently a PhD candidate in Criminal Law. Alina graduated from Harvard University’s Public Leaders in Southeast Europe programme.
Jeanine is a Member of the Dutch House of Representatives since 2010 and a Member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. She previously worked at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement, KPMG, the City of Amsterdam and also served as a Member of the European Parliament. In February 2010, as rapporteur on the issue, Jeanine led the European Parliament vote that rejected an EU-US agreement which would have granted US authorities access to European citizens’ banking data without taking account the European legislation on data protection.
Jávor is a Hungarian environmentalist, who currently heads the Representation of Budapest to the EU. He is former member of the European Parliament, during which time he focused on the policy areas of climate and environment, energy, anti-corruption and Roma inclusion. As an MEP, he was a founding member of the Dialogue for Hungary party and served as the first vice-chair of the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. As a former member of parliament in the Hungarian National Assembly, Jávor served as leader of the Hungarian opposition party, Politics Can Be Different, and chair of the Sustainable Development Committee for most of his mandate. Prior to his career in politics, Jávor was a professor and lecturer in environmental law and has authored several articles and publications on sustainable development. He is also a founding member of Védegylet (Protect the Future), an NGO which aims to raise awareness of global environmental threats.
Sarah is the CEO and Founding Editor of emel, the premier Muslim Lifestyle brand. Through emel, she fundamentally formed the concept of Muslim Lifestyle, creating a seismic shift in the way Muslims were perceived and marketed to. She was a member of the Home Office Task Force on extremism after the July 2005 London bombings. Sarah was awarded an OBE in 2004 for services to inter-faith dialogue and the promotion of women’s rights. She was listed as one of the UK’s most powerful Muslims in the Muslim Power 100 by Carter Andersen, and one of the World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims by Georgetown University and the Jordanian Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre.
In addition to his role as Public Affairs Director for Samsung, Jacek is a Member of the Supervisory Board for ElekroEko, which Poland’s largest organisation for the recovery and management of electronic waste and recycling. Jacek spent seven years at CEC Government Relations, the leading independent public affairs agency in Central Europe. In parallel to his corporate career, he has been active in the IT industry as Vice President of the Polish IT and Telecom Chamber and a Member of the Executive Board of Digital Europe. Jacek has also been active in local and national politics: he was a Parliamentary candidate in 1997 and former Advisor to the Minister of Youth and Family Affairs.
Christian is the owner and Chairman of Maporama Solutions, a company specialising in the visualisation of enterprise data on maps. He became a well-known after co-founding Central Europe’s first low-cost airline, SkyEurope, in 2001. He took SkyEurope to the stock market in 2005, staying on to manage the firm until 2007 when he exited to focus on new ventures. He is also Managing Director of Danube Consulting, a company that provides advisory services to investors in Central and Eastern Europe. He is involved in the development of several projects, including the establishment of a venture capital fund to promote R&D in Slovakia, as well as renewable energy initiatives.
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.
- 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 email@example.com.
*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.
- Area of Expertise
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability