About

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

The Frankly Speaking Podcast - Iran: Unchallenged, till now

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The Frankly Speaking Podcast - Iran: Unchallenged, till now

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Episode 12. Frankly Speaking Podcast Series: Special Focus Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Episode 12. Frankly Speaking Podcast Series: Special Focus Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Everything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!

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Everything you didn't know about air pollution. It's scary stuff!

Jane Burston

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Joss Garman on the climate crisis: how bad is it (bad!) and can we get out of it (yes!)?

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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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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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Continue to Meet the EYL

Meet the EYL40

Photo of Jamila Aanzi
Jamila Aanzi

Member of the Appeal Advisory Committee on Childcare Allowance and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Jamila is a leading independent strategic consultant, educator, and board member. She currently serves on the Dutch government appeal advisory commission, to provide advice about the childcare benefits affair. Furthermore, she is a board member of the World Press Photo, and the Stichting JES Rijland, an organisation which promotes the rights of youngsters in education and society. For various international clients, Jamila provides consulting and coaching services about leadership, empowerment, education, diversity and inclusion. She is currently pursuing a degree to teach business and economics. Jamila previously worked as a senior international political trainer for the Max van der Stoel Foundation, with political parties in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa on diversity, the inclusion of young people and women, EU enlargement and democracy. She was the Dutch women’s representative to the UN, and a member of the European Elections Programme Committee of the Dutch Social Democratic Party (PvdA). Previously, Jamila served as the Vice President of FNV Young, the youth network of the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions, and as the Dutch women’s representative to the United Nations.

Danae Bezantakou
Danae Bezantakou

CEO of Navigator Shipping LTD , 2014 European Young Leader

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Danae is the Managing director of Navigator Shipping Consultants LTD. One of her important achievements is the organisation of the Navigator Conference since 2001 which is considered to be one of the biggest shipping events gathering the decision makers of the shipping community and speakers from all over the world on an annual basis. Through her participation in lectures and seminars, Danae has travelled the world to promote and strengthen women’s entrepreneurship. Her latest venture includes the foundation of Greek Food Obsessions, a gourmet culinary company providing the Greek and international food market with high quality Greek gourmet products from all over Greece. Danae holds a Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of Surrey.

Adriano Farano
Adriano Farano

Co-founder & CEO at Watchup, 2014 European Young Leader

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Adriano is the CEO and Co-founder of Watchup, a Silicon Valley-based start-up that brings the power of video journalism to the post-PC era with an Apple app that lets you build your daily newscast out of the world’s most trusted news channels. He is a former EiR at StartX, the Stanford student start-up accelerator. Previously, he co-founded and ran from 2001 to 2009 Cafebabel.com, a pan-European online media outlet entirely translated in 6 languages that has thousands of contributors. In 2007, he was selected as a young leader in the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Adriano is a Political Science and International Relations graduate from LUISS University in Rome.

Christel Heydemann
Christel Heydemann

CEO of the Orange Group and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Christel Heydemann is committed to connecting people in a sustainable world, while addressing today’s societal challenges, in her role as the Orange Group’s CEO. Prior to her current appointment, she served as the executive vice president of European operations and of France at Schneider Electric, where she also sat on the company’s executive committee. Heydemann first joined Schneider Electric as the senior vice president of global strategic alliances, in which role she focused on the launch and adoption of the Internet of Things. She previously worked at Alcatel-Lucent, where she was entrusted with a range of responsibilities, specifically in the context of the merger of Alcatel and Lucent. Having first joined Alcatel’s project finance team, she progressively made her way up the ladder to serve on the executive committee of Alcatel-Lucent as the director of human resources and transformation. Heydemann began her career at the Boston Consulting Group in Paris.

Guillaume Liegey
Guillaume Liegey

CEO of eXplain and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Guillaume is an expert in electoral strategy. He began his career in Beijing before joining the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for 4 years in France and in the United States. In 2012, he joined the French presidential campaign team of François Hollande, in which he oversaw the field campaign strategy to reach out to 5 million households, led the rollout of the campaign in 30 departments and coordinated the communication strategy. He then co-founded a political strategy firm Liegey Muller Pons to help other European political parties improve the way they run their election campaigns and engage with citizens before and after the polls. Guillaume is the co-author of Porte-à-porte, Reconquérir la démocratie sur le terrain (2013). He is also a lecturer at Sciences Po Paris, where he teaches a course on electoral campaigns. Guillaume is a graduate of HEC and Harvard, holding a Master in Public Administration and a MSc in Management.

Daniela Ott
Daniela Ott

Founder of Agape Strategy Consulting and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Passionate about consumers’ needs and desires, Daniela is an expert in brand management, strategy and finances, as well as merchandising and product knowledge. She is the Founder of Agape Strategy Consulting, which supports luxury and fashion brands with their brand, product and go-to-market strategy. Daniela also teaches a class on Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC Business School in Paris. Daniela has a wealth of experience in the industry as the former CEO of Eden Being at the Oetker Collection, CEO of Tomas Maier and COO of the Kering Luxury Division at Kering, director of strategy at Gucci Group and director of strategy and marketing at Balenciaga. In addition to being recognised as one of Women’s Forum Rising Talents, Daniela has been a recipient of the LSE Research Award and the Economic & Social Research Council Award.

Nina Rawal
Nina Rawal

Founder of Emerging Health Ventures and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Nina is the founder of a venture capital fund focused on affordable medicine and medical products. Prior to her current role, Nina was the head of life science at the Swedish Industriaal Development Fund, a €500mn venture capital fund, where she was responsible for international business development in early life science companies. She has also previously served as the head of strategy and ventures at Baxter Group, formerly Gambro, a leading global medical technology company. Nina sits on the boards of MedCap AB and Stockholms Sjukhem, a non-profit hospital. In recognition of her work, Nina was selected among the Women’s Forum Rising Talents in 2012.

Maria Vlachou
The late Maria Vlachou

Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Fereikos and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on The late Maria Vlachou

Maria was the CEO of Fereikos-Helix, a company that oversees the development of organic snail farming globally and CEO of Maria Vlachou LTD, specialising in the branding, packaging and export of Greek high-quality agricultural products. In 2011, Maria she was awarded the Greek Entrepreneur of the Year prize and in 2013, she was included in the Fortune list of “40 under 40” in Greece. In addition, she was on the advisory board of Hellenic Start-Up Association and mentor at several start-up initiatives such as Startup live Athens.

Maria left us too soon on 24 July 2019.

Max von Bismarck
Max von Bismarck

Chief Business Officer & Managing Director, Deposit Solutions and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Max is a European serial entrepreneur and Chief Business Officer of Deposit Solutions. Previously Max was Partner and CEO Europe for SkyBridge Capital, the global alternative investment firm, and Director and Head of Investors at the World Economic Forum in Geneva and New York. Furthermore, he was a Co-Founder & Managing Director at Public One Strategy Consulting, and part of the initial team of the technology company Mondus Limited that originated out of Oxford University. He serves as Senior Advisor Europe to the Berggruen Institute and is a former Senior Advisor on Global Business at the Asia-Pacific Research Center of Stanford University.

Julia Zimmermann
Julia Zimmermann

Chief Scientific Officer, Terraplasma and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Julia is principal investigator in the research area “plasma medicine”, a rapidly growing, interdisciplinary field of research requiring synergistic contributions from physicists, engineers, chemists, micro- and cell-biologists and physicians. To carry out this fundamental but also translational research she created a “plasma medicine network” including partners from more than 20 institutions in Germany, England, the USA and Russia. Julia is also Co-founder of the company terraplasma GmbH – a technology company, founded in May 2011 as a spin-off from the Max Planck Society. The mission of terraplasma GmbH is to develop and bring to market different cold atmospheric plasma devices. Julia holds a PhD in Biophysics from the Technical University in Munich.

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Events

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Selection process

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.

 

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • 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 eyl40@friendsofeurope.org.

*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.

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