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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 Mette Abildgaard
Mette Abildgaard

MP, group chair and political spokesperson for Conservative Party in Denmark and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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In 2015, Mette became one of the youngest individuals to be elected Member to the Danish Parliament. Representing the Conservative People’s Party, she serves as the spokesperson for healthcare, environment, climate and the Danish constitution. In 2016, she was appointed as group chair and political spokesperson, a promotion which made her the youngest person to hold this position in the history of the Conservative People’s Party. Before being elected to the parliament, Mette served as a Member of the Regional Council of the Capital Region of Denmark and worked as a volunteer for the Danish Cancer Society. In addition to these posts, Mette has served on the board of the Metropol College of Higher Education

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.

Photo of Kirsten Brosbøl
Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO of 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Kirsten is the CEO and Founder of 2030beyond, a do-tank for the 2030 Agenda which works to accelerate action on the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, she founded the Parliamentarians for the Global Goals initiative, a global network of parliamentarians committed to the 2030 Agenda. Kirsten formerly served as the Danish minister of environment and member of the Danish parliament, during which time she founded and chaired the All-Party Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a German Marshall Fellow and was an Obama Foundation Scholar at Columbia University in New York City.

Soulaima Gourani
Soulaima Gourani

Keynote speaker, author and advisor and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Soulaima is a speaker, consultant, author, blogger and an active board member in several public and private companies. It is her vision to change the world to a better more tolerant place through trade and business, and relations between countries and people. She spends part of her time and own money travelling around the world to do “impact journeys”. The past year she has been to Mexico, UAE, India, Jordan, Myanmar and China to work with local entrepreneurs, young global leaders, local schools, change makers and NGOs. Since 2007, she has worked as an advisor and speaker for more than 1000 clients. She has received several prestigious awards among others the Rising Star, the Talent 100 price 2004, PowerWomen, 20 Greatest Nordic Thinkers. Soulaima holds an E-MBA from the Copenhagen Business School.

Jens Ole Bach Hansen
Jens Ole Bach Hansen

Counsellor, Africa and development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Jens is Counsellor at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to his current role, He was posted at the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations in New York, in charge of Danish relations and strategic interventions with the UN Development System. Having worked and studied in the United States, France, Palestine, Israel, Denmark and Jordan, Jens Ole defines himself as “a dedicated internationalist and multi-lateralist”. Following 10 years of experience in international relations, he is now focused on the changing international architecture and the role of the United Nations in addressing global challenges. Jens Ole is a graduate in International affairs from the dual degree programme between Columbia University and Sciences Po, Paris and a BA in Public administration from Roskilde University.

Selina Juul
Selina Juul

Founder and Chairman of the Board of Stop Wasting Food Movement and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Selina is an activist and writer, widely known for her work in promoting sustainable food consumption and the reduction of food waste. She founded Stop Wasting Food, Denmark’s largest non-profit consumer movement against food waste. Having authored over 190 articles on food waste and published a cookbook of leftover food recipes, Selina currently writes as a blogger at The Huffington Post. She is a member and partner of several international initiatives, including the UN Think.Eat.Save campaign, Champions 12.3, the UN SAVE FOOD initiative, the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and the EU FUSIONS project. Selina also serves on the board of ONETHIRD, the Danish Government’s think tank on the prevention of food loss and waste. She has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for her advocacy work, most notably Reader’s Digest European of the Year in 2020, Dane of the Year in 2014 and the Nordic Council Nature and Environment Prize in 2013.

Lea Wermelin
Lea Wermelin

Danish Minister for the Environment and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Lea is the Danish Minister for the Environment in the Mette Frederiksen government. She describes herself as a ‘classic Social Democrat’ who strongly believes in equality and the power of community. As the daughter of a primary school teacher, she is passionate about the role of education as an instrument for social change. Lea became a passionate environmental advocate growing up in Bornholm, a community-tight Danish island with leading policies on circular economy, waste reduction and recycling. She has been involved in politics for the past decade, originally serving as a Board Member of the youth wing of the Social Democratic party. She has also worked in Tanzania on local democracy projects.

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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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