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?

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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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Meet the EYL40

Giulia Bonfá Bio European Young Leader 2023
Giulia Bonfà

Lieutenant Commander in the Italian Navy and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Giulia Bonfà serves in the Italian Navy as one of the 10% of women who make up the Italian Armed Forces. She currently works on maritime policy and international relations as part of the Italian Navy General Staff, prior to which she served as the flag aide in Operation IRINI, which aims to enforce the UN arms embargo to Libya. Most notably, Bonfà became the commanding officer of a minesweeper ship, the Chioggia, at the age of 33. An anti-submarine warfare specialist, she has served in the future operations branch of the Italian Navy Fleet Command and spent several years on board the Italian destroyer Andrea Doria and frigate Zeffiro. Bonfà took part in the biggest NATO anti-submarine warfare exercise, Dynamic Manta, as well as several maritime exercises and real-world missions, including the EU’s first-ever naval operation, Atalanta. She has also been deployed to Lebanon, where she acted as the deputy commander of the Italian joint multimodal operational unit within a UN-led operation.

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Yann Fleureau

Co-Founder of Cardiologs and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Yann Fleureau is a French engineer, entrepreneur and thought leader in the application of artificial intelligence in healthcare. He co-founded Cardiologs to enhance cardiac care and specifically heart disease diagnostics through the use of AI and cloud technology. The medical technology start-up is famed for developing one of the world’s first CE-marked and FDA-approved medical devices powered by deep learning technology. Under Fleureau’s leadership as CEO, Cardiologs became a market leader in the United States and diagnoses over two million patients worldwide each year. Named BNP Paribas European Innovator of the Year and among the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Europe, Fleureau is now pursuing new projects to positively impact the field of digital medicine through deep technology. He is also an active investor in deep medical and biotechnologies, including surgical robotics, alternative proteins and AI diagnostics.

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Raphaël Liégeois

Career Astronaut at the European Space Agency (ESA) and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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A Belgian biomedical engineer, physicist and neuroscientist, Raphaël Liégeois is a Career Astronaut at the European Space Agency (ESA) and one of five to be selected among over 22,500 applicants in the agency’s latest class of astronauts. He is also a Research and Teaching Fellow at the University of Geneva, where he teaches courses in neuroengineering and statistics. Liégeois views science as truly beautiful and believes that it will be central to meeting humanity’s collective challenges. His academic career has also brought him to École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Stanford University, the National University of Singapore and the University of Liège. His research has focused on studying brain dynamics in health and disease, developing dynamic models of brain function and defining new neuroimaging markers of neurodegenerative diseases. An aviation enthusiast, he also pilots hot air balloons, gas balloons and gliders.

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Juan Mata

Professional footballer, Co-Founder of Common Goal and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Juan Mata is a Spanish professional footballer and the Co-Founder of Common Goal, a charitable fund that aims to generate sustainable and equitable social change through the cultural force that is football. The movement motivates stakeholders in the football industry to pledge 1% of their income to a collective fund that supports active projects worldwide. Mata currently plays midfield for Galatasaray in Istanbul. Having previously played for Manchester United and Chelsea, he is considered among the best attacking midfields to have played in the Premier League. Before moving to the United Kingdom, Mata played for Castilla in Madrid and then Valencia CF, where he won his first professional title, the Copa del Rey. He helped secure Spain’s win at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Notably, alongside a Chelsea teammate, Mata was the first footballer to hold the Champions League, Europa League, World Cup and the European Championship simultaneously.

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Marija Vuković

Olympic athlete and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Marija Vuković

A Montenegrin high jump athlete, Marija Vuković made history when she won the country’s first-ever athletic gold medal at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Athletics, where she cleared a 1.91 metre high jump. She has earned the top spot on the podium at the Games of the Small States of Europe five times throughout her sporting career. At the 2021 Balkan Championships, Vuković achieved her current personal best in the high jump, which stands at 1.97 metres and led her to the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she became the first athlete from Montenegro to reach an Olympic final and placed ninth. Since, she has medalled at the 2022 Mediterranean Games and the European Athletics Championships, where she once again made history as the first medallist from her home country. Notably, Vuković was awarded the title of Montenegro’s best athlete by the Montenegrin Olympic Committee.

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Selection process


The European Young Leaders (EYL40) 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 1985).
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the UK, Ukraine, Moldova or 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 2025 that will give you an idea of the process and will provide you with a link to the nomination/application form.

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.

* References to Kosovo here are used without prejudice to positions on status and are in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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