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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.


The programme was initially conceived with EuropaNova, a Paris-based think-tank.

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Meet the EYL40

Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen
Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen

Chess grandmaster and MP in Lithuania, 2019 European Young Leader

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Viktorija serves as a Member of the Lithuanian Parliament for Liberalai. Given the fact that she started her career as a professional chess player, her entry into politics came about relatively recently. She was the European Women’s Champion in 2011 and is a two-time Lithuanian Champion. Her decision to undergo a career change followed her realisation that she wanted to contribute to society on a more political level. She succeeded in being elected to the parliament in 2015 and became Chair of the liberal fraction in 2018. In the parliament, Viktorija is a Member of the Committee on Human Rights and the Committee on European Affairs.

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Selection process

Join the 2020 class of European Young Leaders

Under the patronage of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, 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 the most promising European leadership from all over the continent and with a wide variety of 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.

For examples of current and previous European Young Leaders, please refer to Annex I.

Overview of the selection process

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.

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. Candidates can either apply or be nominated for the selection process of the programme.

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