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

Leading view

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

Julien Berjeaut
Julien Berjeaut

Graphic artist & comic book author, 2014 European Young Leader

Show more information on Julien Berjeaut

Julien, known by his pseudonym Jul, is a French cartoonist and comic book author. He won third prize in the youth competition at the Angoulême comic book festival at the age of 12. He began his working life as a Professor of Chinese history, but then devoted himself entirely to comics. He has published cartoons in numerous newspapers and magazines including Les Échos, La Dépêche du Midi, Nouvel Observateur, and L’Humanité. His comic book series Silex and the City was adapted into a TV animation series and aired as of September 2012 on the franco-german channel Arte. He was appointed by the French government to the rank of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in September 2012.

Christel Heydemann
Christel Heydemann

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

Show more information on Christel Heydemann

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)

Show more information on Guillaume Liegey

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.

Shahin Vallée
Shahin Vallée

Head of the Geo-Economics Programme at the German Council on Foreign Relations and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Shahin Vallée

Shahin is Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. He is also affiliated with the European Institute of the London School of Economics and is a member of the euro50 group, a group of senior current and former European policymakers in Europe. Prior to this Shahin was a Senior Economist at Soros Fund Management and he was also the Economic Advisor to the French Economy Minister until April 2015. Shahin has also been the Economic Advisor to the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. In this capacity, he worked in particular on issues pertaining to European economic policy, the architecture of the euro area and the consequences of the economic and financial crisis.

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Events

Continue to Selection process

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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