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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.


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, 2019 European Young Leader

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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.

Christian Mandl
Christian Mandl

Managing Partner at Neulogy Ventures, 2012 European Young Leader

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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.

Ivan Štefunko
Ivan Štefunko

Managing Partner and Investment Director, Neulogy Ventures, 2015-2016 European Young Leader

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Ivan is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor with particular focus on the media and Internet space. He has founded several companies with global or regional impact, including Euractiv.sk, Pelicantravel.com, MONOGRAM Technologies and wineshop.sk. Prior to founding Neulogy Ventures, he was active as an angel investor and investment advisor and was involved in new ventures such as Piano Media, GA Drilling and Diagnose.me. He also co-founded Neulogy, a Bratislava-based consultancy boutique specializing in R&D management and technology commercialization.

Photo of Michal Štencl
Michal Štencl

Founder & CEO of Sygic, 2017 European Young Leader

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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, 2018 European Young Leader

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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.

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Selection process

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 towards EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, 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.

The deadline for nominations and applications for the 2020 European Young Leaders class has passed. We are currently reviewing the candidates and aim to announce the 2020 class before the end of 2019. We will open the application and nomination period for the class of 2021 in the spring of 2020.

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