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Meet the next generation of young leaders destined to shape Europe’s future in our new EYL40 Class of 2022.

From champions of the arts and tech entrepreneurs, to leading activists and Olympic athletes, meet the new young leaders as they are revealed each day over the next two weeks. Follow on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.


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, a citizens can collaborate and be the drivers of 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. Their passion, their diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and their innovative thinking together create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.

Our European leaders provide alternative perspectives from outside the institutional and political frameworks to EU decisionmakers writing the rule book.

The European Young Leaders also play the essential role of helping to reconnect people with and rebuild trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole economy whole society approach to progress fast. They are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by multilateral or frameworks, or burocracy.

They help take Europe out of Brussels, in their own countries and cities. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and help 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: the green and digital transformation, strengthening of our democracy, relations with our neighbours, increasing power sharing, and building a more gender and diverse Europe.

Succeeding in these policies together and getting more citizens engaged in European elections will be our litmus test.


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

Leading view

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

Leading view

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

Danka Barteková
Danka Barteková

Olympic Athlete & chair of Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 Coordination Commission, Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Danka Barteková is a Slovak skeet shooter who won the bronze medal in Women’s Skeet at the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2012, she was elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission, where she’s serving as an IOC member for eight years.  Danka will also be part of the IOC Coordination Commission for Lausanne 2020, the third Winter Youth Olympic Games, as the as youngest-ever Chair of an Olympic Coordination Commission. She is currently enrolled in a PhD at the University of Matej Bel, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia. Danka also played a leading role in the implementation of the Athlete365 platform, a tool to support all athletes in the world, both in their competitive activity and in post-career.

Ivan Lesay
Ivan Lesay

Board Member and Head of Strategy and M&A of ESCO Slovensko, civil servant and fiction writer and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ivan is a political scientist, economic advisor and writer from Slovakia. Shortly after joining the Slovak Ministry of Finance as advisor to the minister, Ivan instigated the setup of the Slovak Investment Holding (SIH). Since being appointed its CEO in January 2017, Ivan led this state-owned fund in investing in strategic sectors of the economy, and driving economic development throughout the country. As of 2022, Ivan now leads ESCO Slovensko, a joint company of Czech and Slovak energy companies as a board member and head of Strategy and M&A. He previously served as deputy finance minister, and held leading roles during the Slovak Presidency in the EU Council. Ivan is a keen writer and has seen the publication of a number of his works, including a popular study of the 2008 Financial Crisis he co-authored and a children’s book.

Christian Mandl
Christian Mandl

Managing Partner at Neulogy Ventures and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Christian is the owner and Chairman of Maporama Solutions, a company specialising in the visualisation of enterprise data on maps. He became a well-known after co-founding Central Europe’s first low-cost airline, SkyEurope, in 2001. He took SkyEurope to the stock market in 2005, staying on to manage the firm until 2007 when he exited to focus on new ventures. He is also Managing Director of Danube Consulting, a company that provides advisory services to investors in Central and Eastern Europe. He is involved in the development of several projects, including the establishment of a venture capital fund to promote R&D in Slovakia, as well as renewable energy initiatives.

Ivana Sendecka
Ivana Sendecka

Founder, Next Generation Leaders of Slovakia and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Ivana Sendecka

In 2009, Ivana founded the NGO Next Generation Leaders of Slovakia (NGLS), which is a platform and movement dedicated to developing leadership skills, inspiring action and connecting influential Slovakian people. Ivana previously worked in Dubai, as a wealth management banker and sales executive. Returning to Slovakia in 2007, she conducted management consulting for multinational banks and governments and developed a strong interest in the power of new social media platforms to transform the worlds of work and innovation. Since its inception, the NGLS programme has reached hundreds of young Slovaks. Her personal story was featured in two books. She has been a keynote speaker at several prestigious events and featured as an “opinion leader” in many articles. Ivana hold a MBA in Strategic Management from Comenius University in Bratislava.

Michal Šimečka
Michal Šimečka

Vice-President of the European Parliament and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Michal Šimečka

Michal is the first Slovak politician to serve as a Vice-President of the European Parliament. The highest-ranked Slovak in the Parliament’s history, Michal is responsible for democracy and human rights. He is a former vice-president of Renew Europe and was the rapporteur for a key proposal to introduce a new mechanism for the protection of democracy, the rule of law and European values in member states. A champion of a free, secure and democratic Europe, Michal is a Founding Member and the Vice-President of the Progressive Slovakia, a pro-European party in Slovakia. Previously, he worked as a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague, studying European integration and security, and served as an advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. Michal began his professional career as a journalist for SME, a Slovak newspaper, and then the Financial Times.

Ivan Štefunko
Ivan Štefunko

Founding Chairman of Progresívne Slovensko, Consultant in Innovation Policies and 2015-2016 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Ivan has extensive experience in technology, media and the Internet as a serial entrepreneur and angel investor in the Slovakian venture capital industry. Ivan co-founded Progresívne Slovensko (Progressive Slovakia), a social-liberal and pro-European political movement, becoming the party’s first chairman and currently serving as Vice Chairman. Prior to this, Ivan co-founded Neulogy Ventures, a management company which invests public and private funds in early stage tech companies, and Neulogy, a Bratislava-based consultancy boutique specialising in R&D management, technology commercialisation and start-up consultation. He has also been at the helm of a number of start-up companies with global or regional reach, including Diagnose.me, Pelicantravel.com, Piano Media and GA Drilling.

Photo of Michal Štencl
Michal Štencl

Founder & CEO of Sygic and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Michal started programming when he was just seven years old and developed his own operating system by the time he was 20. In 2004, he co-founded Sygic, a mobile navigation company focused on business and holiday travellers. It now has more than 20 million active users worldwide. The company became the first to offer navigation for iPhone and the second for Android. In 2015, Sygic reached the milestone of 100 million downloads of its navigation app. It ranks second in the App Annie Index Travel & Local category, just after Google. Sygic’s automotive team cooperates with companies such as Honda, Jaguar and Land Rover to bring the latest connected driving innovation to cars.

Tomáš Žáček
Tomáš Žáček

CEO, Ecocapsule and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Tomáš Žáček

Tomas is an award-winning Slovakian architect. Apart from being a partner at the architectural firm Nice&Wise, he is the Co-founder, CEO and Design Director of Ecocapsule, a start-up that designed a portable house with long off-grid life span, worldwide portability and flexibility. As such, the Ecocapsule is suitable for a wide range of applications: from an independent research station or a tourist lodge to an emergency housing or a humanitarian-action unit. For this project, Tomas won the People’s Choice Award at the Start-up Awards Slovakia and the Silver Medal at the K-design Awards in Korea.

Continue to Selection process

Selection process

CALL FOR THE EYL CLASS OF 2023 APPLICATIONS IS NOW OPEN UNTIL 30 MAY 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.

*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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