Saving democracy from itself

Event Reports


The European Young Leaders (EYL40) Zagreb seminar showed that the COVID-imposed hiatus has done nothing to dim the dynamic and engaged spirit of the EYL40 programme. Meeting in the context of security, climate, health and economic crises, over 50 young leaders from 24 countries joined together to brainstorm solutions to some of the key challenges facing European society today.

While Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion is spearheading Europe’s defence against the external menace to freedom and democracy, the continent must remain alert to insidious internal threats. It is against that background that the EYL40 gathered in Zagreb for three days of passionate discussion on how to defend and strengthen democracy across the continent and beyond.

Titled ‘Saving democracy from itself’, the seminar welcomed the new Class of 2022, EYL40 alumni, as well as special guests, including Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of Croatia; Gordan Grlić-Radman, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs; Julia Angwin, Pulitzer Prize winner and Tomislav Tomasević, Mayor of Zagreb. Sessions explored topics ranging from the role of media in a functioning democracy, to the polarisation of political opinion, and the advantages of digitalising education.. The EYL40, including Justas Janauskas, Vinted co-founder;  Benjamina Karic; Sarajevo mayor;  Johny Pitts, multidisciplinary artist; Valentina Diouf, professional athlete; Marko Russiver, designer and angel investor and Mario Brandenburg, German parliamentarian and computer scientist, also engaged with 50+ local students and citizens in a citizens’ session to discuss their fears and concerns.

This report highlights the key recommendations and conclusions of these conversations, centred around ways to build a renewed social contract for Europe that revitalises relations between the public, private and social sectors. They also include considerations of accession to the European Union, the protection of the press and rebuilding a constructive political dialogue.

The recommendations pave the way for the upcoming EYL40 autumn seminar, taking place on 8-10 September 2022 in Lisbon.

European Young Leaders(EYL40) — Zagreb 2022 Seminar

The European Young Leader (EYL40) programme, which is now celebrating its 10th anniversary, selects a new class of reputed leaders under the age of 40 each year. Coming from a wide range of backgrounds, they play an essential role in helping reconnect people with politics. The EYL40s represent an alternative infrastructure of leadership, a new generation of leaders able to inspire action and generate change. You can meet the Class of 2022 here.

Related activities

view all
view all
view all
Track title


Stop playback
Video title


Africa initiative logo