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

Photo of Ida Auken
Ida Auken

Member of the Danish National Parliament and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Franziska Katharina Brantner
Franziska Brantner

German Parliamentary State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, former member of the European Parliament, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Franziska Brantner

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).

Alina Gorghiu

Member and Secretary, Chamber of Deputies, Romania and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Alina Gorghiu

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 Hennis-Plasschaert
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert

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.

Photo of Benedek Jávor
Benedek Jávor

Head of Representation of Budapest to the EU and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Benedek Jávor

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.

Riccardo Maraga
Riccardo Maraga

Lawyer, Head of Industrial relations of Federturismo Confindustria, Ughi e Nunziante and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A highly regarded Italian lawyer, Riccardo currently shares his time between Federturismo Confindustria and Ughi e Nunziante, where he’s an expert on employment law as well as privacy and data protection. Riccardo was previously Mayor of the city of Amelia in the Umbria region. At the time one of the youngest politicians in Italy, He was a member of the Democratic Party focussing on sustainable development and global governance. As an elected official, he took pride being in direct contact with citizens. He has published several articles on European social and labour regulations in labour law magazines and reviews.

Photo of Jens Spahn
Jens Spahn

Member of the Bundestag, Deputy Chairman on the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Jens Spahn

Jens is the Deputy Chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. He was formally the Federal Minister of Health in the Cabinet of Angela Merkel. He has been a member of the Bundestag since 2002, with responsibility for health policies, and a Member of the CDU/CSU Youth Group. He has gathered his experience in government during his time as the Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Finance, a post he has held since July 2015. He holds a degree in Banking and Political Science from the University of Hagen, and previously worked as a banker in his hometown of Munster. Jens is a founding member of the ‘Young Member of Parliament’ cross-party group that promotes integration and equality in politics and society.

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 2024 that will give you an idea of the process and will provide you with link to nomination/application form.

Please note that the deadline for the nominations/applications is 28 April 2023.

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

We look forward to receiving your applications and nominations.

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