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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.

The 2020-2021 Class of European Young Leaders:


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

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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

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Una Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change

Una Mullally

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Meet the EYL40

Photo of Eva Maydell (née Paunova)
Eva Maydell (née Paunova)

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

Show more information on Eva Maydell (née Paunova)

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.

Monika Panayotova
Monika Panayotova

CEO of Inno Advisers and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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As the CEO of Inno Advisers, Monika leads the consultancy company on the development of innovative projects and concepts in the field of education, health and science. She is the former deputy minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU and a former member of the European Parliament for the European People’s Party. She has also previously served as a member of the Bulgarian parliament, during which time she was Chairwoman of the Committee on European Affairs and Oversight of the European Funds and a member of the Foreign Policy and Defence Committee. Before starting her political career, Monika worked for an NGO and spent time as a research fellow at the Economic Policy Institute in Sofia.

Vessela Tcherneva
Vessela Tcherneva

Deputy Director, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Vessela Tcherneva

Vessela is Spokesperson and Member of Cabinet for the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously, she was Director of the Bulgarian office of the European Foreign Policy Council and Programme Director of the Centre for Liberal Strategies. Between 2004 and 2006 she was Secretary of the International Commission on the Balkans, chaired by Giuliano Amato. She is Observing Editor of Foreign Policy – Bulgaria magazine, a position she has held since its launch in 2005.

Kristina Tsvetanova
Kristina Tsvetanova

Tech Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of BLITAB and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Kristina Tsvetanova

Kristina currently works in customer experience and enterprise transformation at MURAL, where her role is to help customers scale their innovation culture and accelerate their digital, design and enterprise transformation. As the co-inventor of BLITAB, the world’s first tactile tablet for blind and visually impaired people, Kristina has drawn the world’s attention to the role of digital innovation in easing people’s lives. She also serves as a judge of MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge, an initiative of MIT Solve which seeks to find global solutions through entrepreneurship. Kristina has previously served as an innovation consultant to the G7 in the area of Technology, Research & Innovation. Having cemented herself as a leader in the digital field, while simultaneously promoting the needs of children, women and people with disabilities, Kristina has received worldwide recognition for her work. She was named Rising Innovator by the EU Prize for Women Innovators and the European Laureate of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

Krasimira Velichkova
Krasimira Velichkova

Director, Bulgarian Donors' Forum and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Krasimira Velichkova

Krasimira has been the Director of the Bulgarian Donors’ Forum since 2007 – the only association of foundations and corporate donors in Bulgaria. The Forum has a leading role in the development of philanthropy and civil society in the country by advocating for a better legal and fiscal environment, advising corporate and individual donors, developing fundraising platforms, supporting NGOs to partner with donors, and working with the media to change public opinion towards philanthropy and volunteerism in society. Prior to this she was a development officer in “Altera Cultural” association and grants manager of the “Workshop for Civic Initiatives” foundation. Krasimira is experienced in organisational development strategies, fundraising for social and cultural projects, as well as developing and implementing social and cultural policies.  Krasimira is a vice-chair of the steering committee of DAFNE (Donors’ Associations and Foundations Networks in Europe).

Yuriy Vulkovsky
Yuriy Vulkovsky

Country Manager, Reach for Change and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Yuriy Vulkovsky

Yuriy is a Country Manager for Bulgaria of the International Foundation “Reach for Change” which supports social innovators and social entrepreneurs in 18 countries at 3 continents. He has more than 20 years of experience in the non-governmental sector in Bulgaria and Europe working for the capacity building of the independent social and cultural organisations, as well fighting for government transparency and effectiveness. He believes that the change starts from bottom up and the innovation emerges from the periphery, not from the center. German Marshall Fund and Salzburg Global Seminar Alumni. Member of the Strategy Group of the European Initiative “A Soul for Europe”.

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Selection process

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE APPLICATION DEADLINE WAS MARCH 15. THE APPLICATION PROCESS IS NOW 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 the most promising European leadership from all over the continent and with a wide variety of 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 in order 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 1982);
  • 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 seminar during the programme year.

To be considered for the 2022 selection process, all applications and nominations must be sent to: eyl40@friendsofeurope.org

Application deadline: Monday, 15 March 2021

To read in detail about the selection process, please click here

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