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

Danae Bezantakou
Danae Bezantakou

CEO of Navigator Shipping LTD , 2014 European Young Leader

Show more information on Danae Bezantakou

Danae is the Managing director of Navigator Shipping Consultants LTD. One of her important achievements is the organisation of the Navigator Conference since 2001 which is considered to be one of the biggest shipping events gathering the decision makers of the shipping community and speakers from all over the world on an annual basis. Through her participation in lectures and seminars, Danae has travelled the world to promote and strengthen women’s entrepreneurship. Her latest venture includes the foundation of Greek Food Obsessions, a gourmet culinary company providing the Greek and international food market with high quality Greek gourmet products from all over Greece. Danae holds a Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of Surrey.

Thomas Douzis
Thomas Douzis

Founder and CEO of ERGON Foods and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Thomas Douzis

Thomas is the Founder and CEO of ERGON Foods, an affordable, high-quality Greek restaurant chain-come-grocery store outlet that now has locations in 13 cities worldwide. Thanks to a network of over 150 independent, local, artisanal producers who create 600 products under the unified ERGON brand, the company is able to offer the widest available range of the best that Greece produce has to offer. A role model and an inspiring entrepreneur, Thomas has set an encouraging example for Greek youths on how to thrive in the face of devastating recession.

Photo of Dimitris Tsingos
Dimitris Tsingos

Founder and CEO at Starttech Ventures and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Dimitris Tsingos

Dimitris Tsingos is a serial tech entrepreneur and early stage investor. He is the Founder and CEO of Startech Ventures, a private venture builder and seed investor in Greece. The first Greek seed fund member of the European Business Angels Network, the group has helped launch more than ten successful IT start-ups. Dimitris has been at the helm of various start-ups, including Epignosis, Yodeck, Cycleops and Testilio, among others, and most notably AbZorba Games, a mobile gaming service which was acquired by Novomatic. A passionate European federalist and co-author of the Rome Manifesto, Dimitris initiated the People’s Movement for the European Federal Union. He has also founded the Hellenic Business Angel Network and the Hellenic Start-up Association, a collective effort of Greek start-up entrepreneurs promoting high-growth and innovative entrepreneurship in Greece. He is also the former president of the leading organisation of youth entrepreneurship in Europe, the European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs, and a former fellow at the Marshall Memorial and PSL Research University.

Maria Vlachou
The late Maria Vlachou

Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Fereikos and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on The late Maria Vlachou

Maria was the CEO of Fereikos-Helix, a company that oversees the development of organic snail farming globally and CEO of Maria Vlachou LTD, specialising in the branding, packaging and export of Greek high-quality agricultural products. In 2011, Maria she was awarded the Greek Entrepreneur of the Year prize and in 2013, she was included in the Fortune list of “40 under 40” in Greece. In addition, she was on the advisory board of Hellenic Start-Up Association and mentor at several start-up initiatives such as Startup live Athens.

Maria left us too soon on 24 July 2019.

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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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