About

This year’s EYL40 Class of 2023 includes award-winning investigative journalists, a mega-star of modern-day football, politicians from all levels of government and speakers of national parliaments, a male supermodel and philanthropist, renowned scholars, innovators leading the green digital transition, as well as creative tech-based healthcare professionals.


In 2012, 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 10th 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

Policy Voices | Like Goebbels: Polish propaganda and the demise of democracy

Leading view

Policy Voices | Like Goebbels: Polish propaganda and the demise of democracy

Start playback
Policy Voices Podcast | Keeping the human in the loop: How to make a success story of AI in health

Leading view

Policy Voices Podcast | Keeping the human in the loop: How to make a success story of AI in health

Start playback
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

Start playback
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

Start playback
Continue to Meet the EYL

Meet the EYL40

Photo of Mette Abildgaard
Mette Abildgaard

MP, group chair and political spokesperson for Conservative Party in Denmark and 2019 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Mette Abildgaard

In 2015, Mette became one of the youngest individuals to be elected Member to the Danish Parliament. Representing the Conservative People’s Party, she serves as the spokesperson for healthcare, environment, climate and the Danish constitution. In 2016, she was appointed as group chair and political spokesperson, a promotion which made her the youngest person to hold this position in the history of the Conservative People’s Party. Before being elected to the parliament, Mette served as a Member of the Regional Council of the Capital Region of Denmark and worked as a volunteer for the Danish Cancer Society. In addition to these posts, Mette has served on the board of the Metropol College of Higher Education

Photo of Ida Auken
Ida Auken

Member of the Danish National Parliament and 2012 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Ida Auken

Ida became the Danish Minister for the Environment in October 2011, having been a Member of Parliament and spokesperson on environmental issues for the Danish Socialist People’s Party since 2007. She is well known in Denmark for her work on renewable energy, green cities and environmental protection. Ida studied theology and is also a priest who has written several books on the relationships between theology, politics and society.

Photo of Anders Bæksgaard Christensen
Anders Bæksgaard Christensen

Editor and Head of Politics, National Security and Public Administration at Politiken and 2023 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Anders Bæksgaard Christensen

Anders Bæksgaard is a political journalist from Denmark, who currently co-leads one of the country’s largest newsrooms at the prestigiously regarded newspaper, Politiken. He also heads the daily newspaper’s department on politics, national security and public administration. Bæksgaard has extensively covered the last three general elections in Denmark, while also providing political analysis for DR and TV2, two of the country’s major TV stations. The youngest political editor in Denmark at the time of his appointment, he previously headed the Politiken political editorial office after starting his career at Politiken as a political reporter. Bæksgaard has also covered Danish politics at the Berlingske Tidende daily newspaper’s editorial office and worked as a news coordinator at the Berlingske News Agency, beginning his journalism career as a researcher at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

Photo of Kirsten Brosbøl
Kirsten Brosbøl

Founder and CEO, 2030beyond, former Danish minister for the environment and 2017 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Kirsten Brosbøl

Kirsten is the CEO of 2030beyond, a do-tank which she established to accelerate action on 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, she founded the Parliamentarians for the Global Goals initiative, a global network of parliamentarians committed to the 2030 Agenda. Kirsten formerly served as the Danish minister of environment and a member of the Danish parliament, during which time she founded and chaired the All-Party Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a German Marshall Fellow and former Obama Foundation scholar at Columbia University.

Soulaima Gourani
Soulaima Gourani

Keynote speaker, author and advisor and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Soulaima Gourani

Soulaima is a speaker, consultant, author, blogger and an active board member in several public and private companies. It is her vision to change the world to a better more tolerant place through trade and business, and relations between countries and people. She spends part of her time and own money travelling around the world to do “impact journeys”. The past year she has been to Mexico, UAE, India, Jordan, Myanmar and China to work with local entrepreneurs, young global leaders, local schools, change makers and NGOs. Since 2007, she has worked as an advisor and speaker for more than 1000 clients. She has received several prestigious awards among others the Rising Star, the Talent 100 price 2004, PowerWomen, 20 Greatest Nordic Thinkers. Soulaima holds an E-MBA from the Copenhagen Business School.

Jens Ole Bach Hansen
Jens Ole Bach Hansen

Deputy Head of the Mission at the Danish Embassy in Rome and 2014 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Jens Ole Bach Hansen

Jens is a Danish diplomat focused on the changing international architecture, climate, the UN sustainable development goals and the role of the United Nations in addressing global challenges. Jens was Counsellor at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations in New York. Having worked and studied in the United States, France, Palestine, Israel, Denmark and Jordan, Jens Ole defines himself as “a dedicated internationalist and multi-lateralist”. He has 15 years of experience in international relations and international negotiations.

Selina Juul
Selina Juul

Chairman of the Board & Founder of the Stop Wasting Food movement, Member of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Selina Juul

Selina is an activist and writer, widely known for her work in promoting sustainable food consumption and the reduction of food waste. She founded Stop Wasting Food, Denmark’s largest non-profit consumer movement against food waste. Having authored over 190 articles on food waste and published a cookbook of leftover food recipes, Selina currently writes as a blogger at The Huffington Post. She is a member and partner of several international initiatives, including the UN Think.Eat.Save campaign, Champions 12.3, the UN SAVE FOOD initiative, the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and the EU FUSIONS project. Selina also serves on the board of ONETHIRD, the Danish Government’s think tank on the prevention of food loss and waste. She has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for her advocacy work, most notably Reader’s Digest European of the Year in 2020, Dane of the Year in 2014 and the Nordic Council Nature and Environment Prize in 2013.

Christina Krzyrosiak Hansen
Christina Krzyrosiak Hansen

Mayor of Holbæk Municipality and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Christina Krzyrosiak Hansen

A Danish politician who became Mayor of Holbæk Municipality on her 25th birthday, Christina is the country’s youngest mayor ever, simultaneously tackling age and gender stereotypes. Labelled Denmark’s poorest municipality at the start of her term, Holbæk’s finances have significantly improved under Christina’s leadership, having exercised tight financial management and prioritised previously neglected areas, including primary and lower secondary schools. Her fresh approach to local politics is characterised by greater engagement with the community. She partakes in an ‘internship’ every Tuesday to gain insight into different sectors across the municipality and was recognised for her efforts with the Dialogue Prize at Folkemødet. She previously served as a municipal council member. An established member of the Danish Social Democratic Youth (DSU) and the Social Democrats, she is the former chairman of DSU Holbæk and former deputy to the party association’s main board.

Lea Wermelin
Lea Wermelin

Danish Politician, Member of the Parliament and 2020-2021 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Lea Wermelin

Lea is a Danish politician, currently member of the parliament where she sits on the Business Committee, as well as the Climate, Energy and Supply Committee. She has served as the Danish Minister for the Environment in the Mette Frederiksen government. She describes herself as a ‘classic Social Democrat’ who strongly believes in equality and the power of community. As the daughter of a primary school teacher, she is passionate about the role of education as an instrument for social change. Lea became a passionate environmental advocate growing up in Bornholm, a community-tight Danish island with leading policies on circular economy, waste reduction and recycling. She has been involved in politics for the past decade, originally serving as a Board Member of the youth wing of the Social Democratic party. She has also worked in Tanzania on local democracy projects.

Continue to Events

Events

view more events
Continue to Insights

Insights

view more insights
Continue to Selection process

Selection process

THE CALL FOR APPLICATIONS/NOMINATIONS FOR THE EYL40 CLASS OF 2024 IS NOW OFFICIALLY CLOSED

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 1984).
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state, the United Kingdom, Ukraine 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 EYL40 seminars during the programme year, usually scheduled for March and September.

Please click HERE for the 2024 selection guidelines, which will give you an idea of the process and provide you with link to the nomination/application form.

Please note that the deadline for the nominations/applications is 28 April 2023.

Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at eyl40@friendsofeurope.org.

We look forward to receiving your applications and nominations.

Continue to Partners

Videos

view more
Track title

Category

00:0000:00
Stop playback
Video title

Category

Close
Africa initiative logo

Dismiss