About

Meet the new EYL40 Class of 2024!

This year’s EYL40 Class of 2024 includes an Olympic swimmer, a glaciologist, politicians from all levels of government and members of national parliaments, a winemaker, green tech entrepreneurs and social activists, prize-winning journalists, Unicorn and start-up founders and CEOs, a pioneering playwright of Roma feminist theatre and many more!

 

 


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

Policy Voices | Are we alone in the universe?

Leading view

Policy Voices | Are we alone in the universe?

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Policy Voices | Like Goebbels: Polish propaganda and the demise of democracy

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Policy Voices | Like Goebbels: Polish propaganda and the demise of democracy

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Policy Voices | The Netherlands chose the far-right. What happens next?

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Policy Voices | The Netherlands chose the far-right. What happens next?

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Policy Voices Podcast | Keeping the human in the loop: How to make a success story of AI in health

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Policy Voices Podcast | Keeping the human in the loop: How to make a success story of AI in health

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Continue to Meet the EYL

Meet the EYL40

Photo of Adis Ahmetović
Adis Ahmetović

Member of the Bundestag and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Adis Ahmetović is a German politician with roots in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who represents Hanover in the German Bundestag. An advocate of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement, Ahmetović’s political work primarily focuses on foreign policy issues, as well as climate and energy policy. In the German Bundestag, he is a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a Deputy Member of the Defence Committee. A strong supporter of the accession of the Western Balkan states to the European Union, Ahmetović is the rapporteur for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) parliamentary group for the Western Balkans, as well as for civil crisis prevention, conflict management and networked action, and co-rapporteur for South Asia. Furthermore, he has been appointed by his parliamentary group as spokesperson for the subcommittee on international climate and energy policy. Involved in local organisations, he is the Co-Chair of the Hanover SPD City Association and Vice-President of the German Red Cross in Hanover. Before entering the Bundestag, Ahmetović served in the State Chancellery of Lower Saxony as an advisor on government planning and policy issues.

Ryyan Alshebl
Ryyan Alshebl

Mayor of Ostelsheim and 2024 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ryyan Alshebl is the Mayor of the village of Ostelsheim and the first mayor of Syrian origin in Germany. Having left his home country of Syria and sought asylum in Germany, Alshebl’s pursuit of a career in politics has challenged traditional notions of integration. As mayor, the progressive, independent local politician prioritises digital access to public administration services, as well as early childhood, public transport and environmental protection. Upon his arrival in Germany, Alshebl completed a vocational programme on government administration and an internship at the Althengstett town council, in which role he was responsible for day care management and digitalisation.

Anne Reichert
Anne Kjær Bathel

Founder and CEO of ReDI School of Digital Integration and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Anne founded ReDI School, a vocational training programme that teaches programming and tech skills to migrants and seeks to fill vacancies in the German IT job market. With five schools throughout Germany and Denmark, ReDI hosts 1,000 students per semester, 65% of which are women and girls. She also founded the Berlin Peace Innovation Lab, which focuses on technology’s role in facilitating emerging and measurable social change towards global peace. Prior to this, Anne spent two years in Japan, researching open social innovation, and received the prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship. She previously worked as a corporate social responsibility consultant, during which time Anne developed and implemented Samsung Electronics’ award-winning corporate social responsibility strategy for Scandinavia.

Steffen Bilger
Steffen Bilger

Politician, CDU Member of the Bundestag and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Steffen has been a Member of the Bundestag since 2009 and Chairman of the North Württemberg district branch of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) political party since 2011. From 2018 to 2021 he served as Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in the cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Since the 2021 elections, Steffen has been serving as one his parliamentary group’s deputy chairs, under the leadership of chair Ralph Brinkhaus. In this capacity, he oversees the group’s legislative activities on agriculture, environmental policy, nature conservation and consumer protection.

Katharina Borchert
Katharina Borchert

Chief Innovation Officer at Mozilla Foundation and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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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.

Mario Brandenburg
Mario Brandenburg

German Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Research, computer scientist and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Mario is a German computer scientist and politician, who currently serves as a Member of the Bundestag for the Free Democratic Party (FDP). He is determined to support Germany’s future through the use of digital technologies. With strong knowledge in quantum computing, biotechnology, AI, 3D printing and blockchain technologies, Mario currently is the Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Research. In addition to his role at the federal level, he remains active in local politics as a Member of the Municipal Council of Rülzheim and the District Council of Germersheim. Mario also has a keen interest in how digital processes can benefit rural areas within society’s digital transformation.

Franziska Katharina Brantner
Franziska Brantner

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

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Franziska Brantner 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, Brantner was a member of the Bundestag and a member of 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, Brantner worked for the Bertelsmann Foundation and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Zarah Bruhn
Zarah Bruhn

Commissioner for Social Innovation at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Founder & CEO of socialbee and 2024 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A multi-award social entrepreneur passionate about impact-entrepreneurship equality and diversity, Zarah Bruhn is the Commissioner for Social Innovation at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. To address the systemic barriers to job market integration and develop sustainable pathways to employment for refugees, Bruhn founded socialbee, a non-profit that supports companies in hiring refugees and migrants, as well as further qualifying them for the primary labour market. Bruhn seeks to shift mindsets by demonstrating the social value of long-term labour market integration and reimagining industry norms for temporary employment. She is also a member of the German Council for sustainable development and an Ashoka Fellow.

Steffen Burkhardt
Steffen Burkhardt

Director of the International Media Centre Hamburg, 2013 European Young Leader

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Steffen is Director of the International Media Centre Hamburg. He researches and teaches with a focus on media sociology, social media, privacy and public sphere. His current research includes the transformation of privacy as a consequence of the internationalisation and digitalisation of media. He is a Founding Member of the Global Communication Association and is associated with numerous international organisations and think-tanks. He is a member of the selection committee of the German National Academic Foundation and several trusts to promote press freedom, human rights and democracy.

Markus Freiburg
Markus Freiburg

Founder & CEO of Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE) and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Markus is the Founder of the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE), a leading financial intermediary that helps social enterprises scale their social impact by helping them raise hybrid growth capital. FASE has built an open pipeline of investment-ready social enterprises and closed sixteen transactions leveraging around €6m in impact investments. Markus is also a member of the Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES), a consultative multi-stakeholder group on social business that examines the progress of measures foreseen by the European Commission. He has experience of working with many social enterprises in finding appropriate financing solutions and scaling-up the impact of proven business models. Markus worked for seven years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where one of his roles was providing pro-bono consulting for social entrepreneurs.

Photo of Jakob Haesler
Jakob Haesler

Managing Director at Foxdixneuf and European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Prior to founding Project Alloy, Jakob was the CEO and Co-Founder of Tinyclues SAS, a Paris-based software startup with the objective of industrialising datamining on Big Data with the help of advanced machine learning algorithms in a Cloud Computing environment. Previously he was a partner and consultant at McKinsey & Company in Germany and France where he worked on topics ranging from Banking to Public Sector Reform to Global Public Health issues, notably the creation and distribution of child HIV treatments. Prior to McKinsey he briefly worked at the World Bank. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science from the University of St. Gallen. Jakob is also a founding partner of the “Cercle du Leadership”.

Fabian Heilemann
Fabian Heilemann

Founder & CEO of Sky & Sand and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Fabian founded the leading German couponing company DailyDeal in 2009. To date he still leads DailyDeal together with his co-founder and brother. In private, he invests as a business angel in technology start-ups through his holding Heilemann Ventures. Before founding DailyDeal, Fabian worked for various German law firms and as a business consultant for Booz & Co. Prior to that, he passed the First Bar Exam of the State of Hamburg with distinctions and submitted a PhD thesis in Corporate Law at Heidelberg Law School. He was a visiting student at Santa Clara University and Stanford University, CA, USA and founded the Entrepreneurs Club at Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, Germany.

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Lars Hinrichs

Serial Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Cinco Capital and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Lars is a serial entrepreneur and investor. He is the Founder and CEO of both Cinco Capital, a private equity fund that invested in tech companies throughout Europe and the United States, and HackFwd, a pre-seen venture capital company which invests in technical talent across Europe. Lars also founded XING, a networking platform dedicated to cultivating business contacts. His other projects include Apartimentum and politik-digital.de. Among the most successful web entrepreneurs in Germany, Lars has received several awards, including the 2004 German Internet Prize of the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Lead Award, Germany’s top award for print and online media. He was also elected Germany’s most important web entrepreneur in 2008 by the Startups Initiative. A true expert in his field, Lars is a member of the supervisory and advisory boards of various companies and advises politicians on digitalisation at the local, national and European levels. He is also an honorary member of the German Committee of UNICEF.

Gyde Jensen
Gyde Jensen

Youngest MP in Germany and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Gyde is the youngest female Member of the German Parliament. She is also Chairwoman of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. Prior to these posts, she spent time working in Geneva and Washington D.C, in addition to serving as communications manager at a political foundation. She is the co-founder of the start-up network platform, ‘Kiel Starting City’. In October 2017, she was elected a Member to the German Bundestag and is the speaker on human rights for the FDP parliamentary group. Since January 2018, she has chaired the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

Photo of Misbah Khan
Misbah Khan

Member of the Bundestag and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Misbah Khan is a Member of the German national parliament and a representative of the Alliance 90/The Greens party. As a Member of the Committee on Digital Affairs and the Committee on Internal Affairs and Community and also as a Substitute Member of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid Committee, she focuses on topics related to migration, digital administration and bureaucracy reduction. The preservation of human rights in the real world, as well as in the digital space, is essential to Khan. She is resolutely committed to countering right-wing extremism and champions diversity and equal opportunities. Before she was elected to the Bundestag, Khan worked for the Rhineland-Palatinate State Agency for Civic Education and at the Rhineland-Palatinate Democracy Centre.

Image copyright: Nils Leon Brauer

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Selection process

THE CALL FOR APPLICATIONS/NOMINATIONS FOR THE EYL40 CLASS OF 2024 IS NOW OFFICIALLY CLOSED

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 United Kingdom, 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 EYL40 seminars during the programme year, usually scheduled for March and September.

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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