Inés Arrimadas García serves as a Member of the Spanish parliament and is the Leader and Spokesperson of the Citizens (“Ciudadanos”) party. As a former member of the Parliament of Catalonia, Inés sat on the Committee of Business and Employment, focusing on socio-economic issues including unemployment and inequality, and went on to become the leader of the opposition. Under her leadership, the Citizens party became a major contender and won a majority in the Catalonian parliament. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was named among the Young European of the Year category by the Liberal Democrat Local and Regional Politicians (LeaDeR) Awards. Inés started her career in the private sector, working for a consulting firm, which specialised in EU-funded project management related to territorial development and service management. She was also previously responsible for quality and administration management in a group of companies in the petrochemical sector.
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
Leading viewThe Frankly Speaking Podcast - Iran: Unchallenged, till now
Leading viewEpisode 12. Frankly Speaking Podcast Series: Special Focus Russian invasion of Ukraine
Leading viewEverything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!
Leading viewJoss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?
Leading viewUna Mullally on abortion rights, marriage equality and galvanising a generation for change
Meet the EYL40
Kirsten is the CEO of 2030beyond, a do-tank which she established to accelerate action on 2030 Agenda and achieve 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 a 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 former Obama Foundation scholar at Columbia University.
Carole Dieschbourg served as a municipal councillor in Echternach from 2011 to 2013, when she was appointed to the government as Minister of the Environment. At the time she was the youngest member of the cabinet and the only Green Minister of the Environment in Europe. Carole represented the European Union during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, which coincided with Luxembourg’s Presidency of the EU Council. Her role was to ensure that the EU had a coordinated position during the conference. In the run-up to the COP21, she also represented the EU at many bilateral meetings and high-level conferences such as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue and the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF).
A lawyer by training, Muna is passionate about politics. During her studies, she was the international secretary of Socialist Youth Austria and worked for the French Socialist Party. After graduation, she became a local councillor in the Vienna-Donaustadt district at the age of 23. In 2010, she joined the Austrian Federal Council where she became the Social Democrat spokesperson on foreign policy. Six years later, she was nominated as Secretary of State in the Office of the Federal Chancellery. Muna is also the President of the Palestinian-Austrian Society, a group that aims to deepen exchanges between Austrians and Palestinians and play an active part in Austrian society by promoting anti-racist, democratic and transnational programmes.
Colum is an Irish politician, who has been at the heart of the post-conflict success in Derry, the second largest city in Northern Ireland. He is currently the Leader of the SDLP and a member of the British parliament. Colum previously served as a member of parliament in the Norther Ireland Assembly, during which time he was appointed SDLP representative on the committee overseeing the work of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. He also sat on the Standards and Privileges and the Environment committees. Colum was elected Mayor of Derry at age 27, making him the youngest mayor to serve the city to date, prior to which he was on the Derry City Council. Throughout his career, Colum has championed Derry as a city of culture and continuously stood against dissident republican violence, calling for an end to terrorist activities by armed groups.
Aaron has held several leading ministerial positions in the Maltese government. He is currently the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, prior to which he served as the parliamentary secretary for European funds and social dialogue, and as the minister for the environment, climate change and planning. As a Member of the House of Representatives of Malta, he sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as Head of the Maltese Delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly for the Mediterranean. During his time on the Labour Party’s Executive Committee, he founded the party’s progressive think tank, IDEAT. Additionally, he is the former deputy mayor of Ta’ Xbiex and former chairman of the Labour Youth Forum.
As of January 2021, Kaja Kallas is Estonia’s first female Prime Minister. A competition lawyer by profession, Kaja was elected Member of the Estonian Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Economic Affairs in 2011. After being elected to the European Parliament in 2014, she became a prominent proponent of innovation and frequently emphasised that regulations should not hinder the technological revolution. She authored five reports in the European Parliament, including of an own-initiative report on the Digital Single Market. Kaja left the European sphere in 2018 to become leader of Estonia’s Liberal Reform Party.
Zanda is a Latvian politician and serves as the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. Her role is to ensure cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Latvian Parliament and the European Parliament. She also represents the Latvian government at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings of development and trade ministers. Zanda also currently chairs the Consultative Board for Development Cooperation Policy of Latvia and sits on the board of European Movement – Latvia, a non-profit organisation. She previously served as a member of the Latvian parliament and chaired the Committee on European Affairs Committee and the Innovation and Research Subcommittee during her mandate. Zanda started her professional career at Jurmala’s city council and then went on to work at the Strategic Analysis Commission of the President of Latvia, where she served as an advisor to the president.
As the Resident Representative at the political research foundation associated with the Christian Social Union (CSU), Julia works on projects related to strengthening civil society, civic involvement and the rule of law, among other topics, in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Prior to her current role, Julia was elected and served as a member of the German federal parliament at the age of 29. Her political work focused on defence and security policies as a member of the Committee on Defence, which played an important part in the adoption of the defence budget and the procurement of materiel for the armed forces. Julia started her career as a lecturer at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich before joining the office of the CSU, where she held several political positions at the local level. As a member of the CSU policy committee, she played an important role in drafting the new party manifesto.
Virginia was the first woman to become mayor of Rome after winning the 2016 municipal election with two-thirds of the vote. She is considered as a rising star of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), a party that she joined in 2011, two years before being elected to Rome’s city council. Called a talented debated by the Economist, Virginia vowed to end corruption, introduce a new level of transparency to the Roman government and revamp the city’s failing infrastructure. Virginia fiercely campaigned against the proposed amendment to the Italian constitution in the run-up to the 2016 constitutional referendum. A lawyer by training, she specialises in intellectual property and new technology.
Cezary began his political career on Sieradz’s city council in 2006. One year later, he was elected as a Member of the Polish Parliament at the age of 23. He sat in the Committee on National Defence and the Committee on EU Affairs in addition to chairing the Permanent Subcommittee on the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020. In 2010, he was awarded the Medal of Merit for National Defence by the Polish Minister of National Defence in recognition of his services to the development and strengthening of the defence of his country. In 2015, he was appointed as a Secretary of State and spokesperson in the government of Ewa Kopacz. After the 2015 parliamentary elections, he was nominated as shadow Deputy Minister of National Defence for the Civic Platform.
Currently, Ozan works as a researcher at the Finnish Labour Institute for Eonomic Research. Formerly, he served as green city counsellor in Helsinki and as member of the Finish Parliament. As a green politician and future economist, he is very interested in the future of work and green economic growth. At the age of 27, he was elected as a Member of the Finnish Parliament and in the past parliamentary term he advocated for social equality and the fight against discrimination. Ozan has worked at the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Ozan has also served as the Co-Chair of the Federation of Green Youth and in 2017 he was on the 30 Under 30 list of Forbes.
APPLICATIONS FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2023 ARE NOW CLOSED.
NOMINATIONS FOR UKRAINIAN NATIONALS* ARE OPEN UNTIL 24 JUNE 2022
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.
- Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1983).
- 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 of the two EYL seminars during the programme year.
Please click HERE for the detailed Selection Guidelines 2023.
Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
*The current crisis has prompted us to open up the programme to Ukraine as a pilot initiative. In future years we hope to find a way of including more people who are not EU nationals/citizens but are contributing positively to current Europe (e.g., candidates from our neighbourhood countries and refugees).
**References to Kosovo here are used without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244/99 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
- Area of Expertise
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability
- Area of Expertise
- Climate, Energy & Sustainability