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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 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 Jamila Aanzi
Jamila Aanzi

Business economist, UN Women’s Representative, 2014 European Young Leader

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Jamila has positioned herself as one of the leading innovators in the fields of youth involvement and social outreach in the Netherlands. She has participated in numerous programmes aimed at encouraging cooperation between diverse backgrounds and envisioning a new social and political vision. In 2017, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, appointed Jamila as Dutch women’s representative at the United Nations. As a senior international trainer for the Max van der Stoel foundation she trains political parties and politicians in Eastern Europe, the Middle-East and North-Africa. Jamila is an alumni of several international leadership programs like the Israeli ‘future European leaders’ program and the US state department’s ‘international visitors leadership’ program.

Photo of Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar
Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar

Co-Founder & Artistic Director at Polyphony Foundation, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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A gifted violinist and visionary champion for youth and community development, Nabeel has led and inspired people from all walks of life across Israel, Europe and the U.S. He performed with, and was a spokesperson for, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra for a decade as well as performing as a soloist with the Jerusalem Camerata and the Haifa Symphony orchestras. In 2006, Nabeel gave up his music career and returned to his hometown, the Arab-Israeli city of Nazareth, where he founded and led the Barenboim-Said Conservatory—now known as the Polyphony Conservatory—to answer the need he saw in the community for quality music programming. Nabeel has been awarded the Yoko Ono Award for Courage in the Arts for his lifelong-commitment to fostering a sense of community between young pan-Arab and Jewish musicians.

Photo of Samir Abdelkrim
Samir Abdelkrim

Founder of EMERGING Valley, Author, Entrepreneur and 2020 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Samir is not only a French entrepreneur but also an author and a tech reporter. Passionate about all things digital, he founded EMERGING Valley as an international summit on African innovation to connect tech start-ups with investors, thinkers and decision-makers across continents. He also leads StartupBRICS, a company that provides insights on entrepreneurship in emerging economies. Samir is a former chronicler on African tech entrepreneurs for Le Monde and has also featured in the Huffington Post, Le Point and Les Echos. His book, Startup Lions, chronicles his experience travelling the African continent in search of the most interesting and innovative tech start-ups. With French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative “Summit of the Two Shores of the Mediterranean”, Samir was amongst 10 selected to make proposals to relaunch European and Mediterranean cooperation.

Photo of Mette Abildgaard
Mette Abildgaard

MP, group chair and political spokesperson for Conservative Party in Denmark, 2019 European Young Leaders

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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

Absi Abou Zaid

Founder & Chief Executive Officer Mavericks International School, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Seif is a social and policy entrepreneur, passionate about education and its relationship to governance. Seif co-founded the Agency for Development and Enhancement, which provides training for young people, and the Nabadat Foundation, a non-profit which aims to use technology to improve education to fight poverty and enhance political awareness. Seif is also the former CEO of Tahrir Academy, a blended learning platform that creates intellectually-stimulating learning experiences for more than 160,000 registered Egyptian and Arab learners. In 2015, he founded the Mavericks International School, which seeks to leverage innovative teaching methods and technology to develop the unique potential of its students.

Photo of Abdallah	Absi Halabi
Abdallah Absi Halabi

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Zoomaal, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Abdallah Absi is founder and CEO of Zoomal, the leading crowdfunding platform in the Middle East, which involves the top VCs in MENA, and co-founder of GivingLoop, a sustainable fundraising platform that helps non-profits focus less on fundraising and more on changing the world. Abdallah did not complete his university education, but went on to see huge successes in the entrepreneurial world, being covered by CNN, WSJ, Forbes, and others. He is also an Ashoka fellow, a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum in the Beirut Hub, and a Startup Weekend organizer by the Kauffman foundation, and describes himself as a social mission

Photo of Alberto Alemanno
Alberto Alemanno

Founder and Chairman of the Good Lobby, Jean Monnet Professor in EU Law at HEC Paris, Global Clinical Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and European Young Leader Alumnus

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Alberto is an academic, author and activist. He’s currently Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris and Global Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Committed to bridging the gap between academic research and policy action, Alberto pioneered innovative forms of civic engagement and campaigning in the EU transnational space via his civic start up The Good Lobby. His last book, ‘Lobbying for Change: Find Your Voice to Create a Better Society’ provides a timely analysis and guide to levelling the democratic playing field by empowering ordinary citizens to speak up and inform policy decisions at local, national and international level. A Harvard graduate, he’s a regular contributor to Le Monde, Bloomberg, Politico Europe, Forbes, and Il Sole 24 Ore, and his scholarly and public interest work has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, the Financial Times as well Science and Nature.

Photo of Wajahat Ali
Wajahat Ali

Journalist, Author and Playwright, 2017 North American Young Leader

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Wajahat is an award-winning playwright and TV host of Pakistani descent. At Affinis Labs, he works to create social entrepreneurship initiatives that have a positive impact for marginalised communities and to empower social entrepreneurs and communities to come up with innovative solutions to tackle the world problems. Wajahat is the author of The domestic Crusaders, which was the first major play about Muslim Americans published after 9/11. He is also the lead author of the investigative report about anti-Muslim discrimination Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America from the Center for American Progress. He also previously worked as the co-host of the Al Jazeera American Network.

Photo of Lina	Almaeena
Lina Almaeena

Co-founder & Director of Jeddah United (JU), 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Lina is a leading figure in the sport industry in Saudi Arabia, who co-founded Jeddah United (JU), the first Saudi private sports company to train girls and boys in team sports to promote sports culture. Lina was captain of the Jeddah United Women’s basketball division up to 2012, columnist for Almadina newspaper, and climbed the Everest Base Camp as part of a breast cancer awareness campaign. Her efforts are an example of grassroots challenging of strict gender rules in Saudi Arabia, and Lina has been listed as one of the 200 Most Powerful Women in the Middle East by Forbes Magazine 2014.

Photo of Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo
Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo

President, Libres e Iguales, 2013 European Young Leader

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Cayetana is a former Member of the Spanish Parliament (2008- 2011) and Vice-President of the Joint Committee for the European Union and a Member of the Justice and Constitutional Committees. She was also Deputy Speaker for the Partido Popular of Madrid and Director of the International Department of FAES Foundation. She was awarded the Silver Microphone of the Spanish Professional Association of Informants of Press, Radio and Television for her articles published in El Mundo. She holds a BA and a PhD in History from Oxford University.

Ines Amri
Ines Amri

Senior Researcher at Einstein Center Digital Future and Technical University of Berlin, 2017 MENA Young Leader

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Ines is a Berlin-based Senior Researcher at the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF) and the Technische Universität (TU) Berlin, working mainly in the field of platform economies and digitization in North Africa, with a focus on Tunisia. An Award-winning social impact entrepreneur and Innovation consultant, Ines has extensive experience in international development, public policies, and managing cooperations. Before joining TU Berlin, she was the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Amparo GmbH, a Berlin-based start-up revolutionizing prosthetics and health care access to amputees. She is now acting as an advisor to the startup mission in bringing Amparo technology to low-middle income and humanitarian contexts. Before moving to Berlin, she worked as a Senior consultant to prominent Tunisian and international organizations in the fields of management, innovation, democracy, elections, innovation and entrepreneurship. She was also the Managing Director of the Maghreb Economic Forum (MEF), a think tank in Tunis.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé
Guillem Anglada-Escudé

Reader in Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London, 2018 European Young Leader

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Guillem is a well-known astrophysicist and scientist, who discovered the Proxima-b exoplanet orbiting Proxima-Centauri, our closest neighbouring star. He has conducted research in several countries and has been actively engaged with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency. In 2016, Nature magazine chose him as one of the ten most prominent scientists world-wide, and the same year he was also listed by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Photo of Eleni Antoniadou
Eleni Antoniadou

Co-Founder of Transplants without Donors, 2017 European Young Leader

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Eleni has been working on artificial organ technology and regenerative medicine in hospitals across the world. After graduating in biomedicine, she participated in the first successful artificial trachea transplant operation on a late-stage cancer patient. She is also the co-founder of the London-based start-up Transplants without Donors, which aims to develop tissue-engineered organs that are transplanted into sick patients. Eleni also trained NASA astronauts in biomedical experimentation for the International Space Station (ISS). 

Ana Antunes
Ana Antunes

Head of Scientific Events & Communication at MabDesign, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Ana is a microbiologist and formerly a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. After completing her PhD in Microbiology in 2010 at the University of Lisbon, she moved to Siena, Italy, where she was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship and worked for Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics. Having also lectured in vaccinology and pharmaceutical clinical development, Ana has published in peer-reviewed journals and spoken at numerous international conferences. Over the course of her academic career, she has received various grants and fellowships, including from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). Ana is also co-founder and President of AGRAFr – The Association des Diplômés Portugais en France, which brings together Portuguese expats and French nationals.

Andreas Araouzos
Andreas Araouzos

Founder & Creative Director at Alpha Square, 2017 European Young Leader

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Andreas completed courses at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 2002, he founded a theatre productions company, Alpha Square, to enhance theatre in Cyprus and provide spectators with an inspirational selection of plays. Andreas has already directed 14 stage productions in his country, including several award-winning plays and his own musical-comedy adaptation of Cinderella, which will tour Greece in 2017. Andreas has also written several plays, such as ‘The Rich Also Cry’, which was staged by Theatro Ena in 2007. He has translated numerous theatre texts from English to Greek and published a collection of articles in Phileleftheros, the biggest-selling newspaper in Cyprus.

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Selection process

Due to Covid-19, no European Young Leaders class will be selected for 2021. Application for the class of 2022 will open in the spring of 2021.

The EYL40 programme is a unique, multi-stakeholder programme which aims to promote a sense of European identity by bringing together forty of the brightest European leaders every year and engaging them in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future. 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. Additionally, in 2020, the programme will include 6 Young Leaders from the Western Balkan region. In doing so, we aim to promote structural dialogue across the continent that will foster better mutual understanding.

Since the launch of the programme in 2012, 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. Candidates can either apply or be nominated for the selection process of the programme.

Selection criteria:

  • Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age;
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path to EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo*, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro);
  • Candidates should have established themselves 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.

*references to Kosovo in this document 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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