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

Frankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now

Leading view

Frankly Speaking Podcast | Iran: Unchallenged, till now

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Frankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans

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Frankly Speaking Podcast | Fighting for the truth in the Western Balkans

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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

Steffen Bilger
Steffen Bilger

Politician, CDU Member of the Bundestag and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

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Steffen has been a Member of the Bundestag since 2009 and Chairman of the North Württemberg district branch of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) political party since 2011. From 2018 to 2021 he served as Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in the cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Since the 2021 elections, Steffen has been serving as one his parliamentary group’s deputy chairs, under the leadership of chair Ralph Brinkhaus. In this capacity, he oversees the group’s legislative activities on agriculture, environmental policy, nature conservation and consumer protection.

Beata Bublewicz
Beata Bublewicz

Deputy Director of the Department of Tourism and Sport at the Marshal Office of Warmia-Mazury Voivodeship and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Beata Bublewicz

Beata Bublewicz is a former member of the Polish parliament, during which time she served as a member of the International Affairs Committee and focused on Polish relations with Argentina, India and Israel. Before devoting herself to politics, she worked as an entrepreneur for eight years and held the post of manager at General Motors Poland and Opel Polska. She is the co-author of “Bestie Behind The Steering Wheel” and author of “The 6th Gear. Biography of The Best 80’s & 90’s Polish Rally Driver”, written about her father, the late Marian Bublewicz. Founded in his honour, Beata also chairs the Marian Bublewicz Foundation, which advocates for the improvement of access to education.

Nicola Formichella
Nicola Formichella

Chief Strategy Officer at Universitas Mercatorum and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Nicola Formichella

In addition to his current role at Universitas Mercatorum, Nicola is the CEO of the Buongoverno Foundation and the President of Italianiinmente, a business accelerator and incubator for Italian start-ups. A former member of the Italian parliament, Nicola served as a member of the EU Policy Committee and the Public and Private Labour Commission, as well as the deputy head of the training of the People of Freedom Party. He was also a political advisor to the President of the Campania Region with responsibility for institutional relations. Nicola began his career in politics as a parliamentary assistant, prior to which he was a journalist at a TV station, at which he became director in 1999.

Alessandro Fusacchia
Alessandro Fusacchia

Member of the Italian Parliament and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Alessandro Fusacchia

Alessandro serves as a Member of the Italian Parliament. He is also the Co-Founder and former secretary of the Italian political organisation, Movimenta, prior to which he worked as a strategic advisor for H-Farm’s Education division. Alessandro is the former head of cabinet at the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research. He has prior experience as a special advisor on economic diplomacy to the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and as a special advisor on innovation, entrepreneurship, youth and European affairs to the Italian Minister of Economic Development. Alessandro has also worked as an official at the Council of the European Union dealing with global economic governance and under the Italian Prime Minister’s office in Rome as part of the G8 summit team.

Konstantinos Karagkounis
Konstantinos Karagkounis

Member of the Hellenic Parliament and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Konstantinos Karagkounis

Konstantinos is a Member of the Hellenic Parliament since June 2009, serving as Deputy Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights for the Hellenic Parliament. He is also an attorney by profession practicing in Athens. He received a first degree in Law from the National and Kapodestrian University of Athens and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from the University of London (UEL) from which he graduated with honours. Afterwards he continued his studies at the University of Edinburgh specialising in intellectual property. In 2011 Konstantinos attended the “Leadership for the 21st Century” programme at Harvard.

Zakia Khattabi
Zakia Khattabi

Belgian Minister for Climate, Environment and Sustainable Development and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Zakia Khattabi

Zakia is President of the Green Party of the Belgian Senate, Senator for the French Community Parliament and Vice President of the Senate’s Justice Commission. She is a member of the PCF & PRB parties. Zakia has an extensive background in politics and project management and has comprehensive experience as a researcher in social issues. She holds a Social Studies degree from the ISFSC in Brussels as well as several other academic diplomas in public management, project management and solidarity studies. Zakia is an avid supporter of anti-racist movements and women’s rights and is a founding member of the Arab Women Solidarity Association and a member of the French Women’s Council in Belgium.

Emma Reynolds
Emma Reynolds

Managing Director of Public Affairs, Policy & Research at TheCityUK and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Emma Reynolds

Emma is a public affairs expert and former politician, who currently serves as the Managing Director at TheCityUK, an advocacy group for the financial and professional services industry in the United Kingdom. She is a former member of the British Parliament, during which time she was a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, shadow Europe minister and shadow housing minister, as well as shadow secretary for communities and local government. Prior to becoming an MP, Emma helped set up a business which supported British companies in understanding and influencing EU laws. She was also a political advisor to Geoff Hoon during his time as Minister for Europe Minister and Labour Chief Whip, and worked for the Party of European Socialists in Brussels as an advisor to Robin Cook.

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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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