Our network

Board of Trustees
Etienne Davignon
President of Friends of Europe, Belgian Minister of State and former European Commission Vice-President

Etienne is one of the few statesmen in Europe who has been actively involved in EU affairs from the beginning, from his early role as Chief of Staff to Paul-Henri Spaak to today. He has held high-level positions in both the public and private sectors, including as Vice-President of the European Commission, President of the Société Générale de Belgique, first President of the International Energy Agency and through various board mandates.

Giles Merritt
Founder & Chairman

Giles founded Friends of Europe in 1999, and its policy journal Europe’s World in 2005. His career as a journalist spanned 15 years as a Financial Times foreign correspondent, the last five as Brussels Correspondent, and 25 years as a contributor of Op-Ed columns to the International Herald Tribune on European political and economic issues. In 2010 he was named by the Financial Times as one of 30 ‘Eurostars’ who most influence thinking on Europe’s future. His latest book is “Slippery Slope: Europe’s Troubled Future” (Oxford University Press, 2016).

European Young Leaders
Luxembourg
Carole Dieschbourg
Minister of the Environment, Luxembourg

Carole Dieschbourg served as a municipal councillor in Echternach from 2011 to 2013, when she was appointed to the government as Minister of the Environment. At the time she was the youngest member of the cabinet and the only Green Minister of the Environment in Europe. Carole represented the European Union during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, which coincided with Luxembourg’s Presidency of the EU Council. Her role was to ensure that the EU had a coordinated position during the conference. In the run-up to the COP21, she also represented the EU at many bilateral meetings and high-level conferences such as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue and the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF).

United Kingdom
Tishani Doshi
Poet, Writer & Dancer

Tishani is an Indian-Welsh dancer, poet and freelance writer. Currently based in Madras, India, Tishani divides her time between dancing for one of India’s leading choreographers, Chandralekha, and writing pieces for publications such as The Guardian, Corriere della Sera, The New York Times, The Hindu, The National, India Today, Outlook, Tricycle, Vogue and Elle. Her written work has garnered her various awards such as the prestigious Forward Prize (UK) for Best First Collection (2006) for her debut collection of poems, and she was selected to represent India at the 2012 Poetry Parnassus Cultural Olympics in London. Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers, was published to critical acclaim in 2010, and has been translated into multiple languages. Her latest book is a collection of poems, Everything Begins Elsewhere, and has been published in India, the UK and the USA.

France
Xavier Duportet
CEO & Chairman of Eligo Bioscience

Xavier is a synthetic biologist and entrepreneur who was named French Innovator of the Year by MIT Technology Review in 2015. He co-founded Eligo Bioscience, where he has developed a system that uses genetic editing techniques and nanotechnology and designs new types of medicine to eliminate specific bacteria and leave the others intact. After winning several start-up competitions, the company has recently raised €2.4m in seed funding. Xavier also co-founded Hello Tomorrow, a global non-profit organisation that aims to accelerate science and tech innovation by empowering start-ups and offering cash prizes and connections with industrials and investors. Xavier is a senior adviser to the French government on emerging technologies and their impact on industry.

Austria
Muna Duzdar
Secretary of State for Diversity, Public Service and Digitalisation

A lawyer by training, Muna is passionate about politics. During her studies, she was the international secretary of Socialist Youth Austria and worked for the French Socialist Party. After graduation, she became a local councillor in the Vienna-Donaustadt district at the age of 23. In 2010, she joined the Austrian Federal Council where she became the Social Democrat spokesperson on foreign policy. Six years later, she was nominated as Secretary of State in the Office of the Federal Chancellery. Muna is also the President of the Palestinian-Austrian Society, a group that aims to deepen exchanges between Austrians and Palestinians and play an active part in Austrian society by promoting anti-racist, democratic and transnational programmes.

Poland
Lukasz Dziekonski
Member of the Management Board Marguerite Fund 2020

Lukasz is head of the Marguerite Fund office for the Central and Eastern Europe. He is also a member of the management board for the Marguerite Fund 2020 for Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure in Luxembourg. There, Lukasz oversees the formulation of financial and operational strategies. He is also on the supervisory board of Pomeranka Development, InvestGas and Energa Operator in Poland, and of PZU Ukraine Insurance Company and Kredobank, also in Ukraine. Lukasz began his career as an adviser in the European Parliament, focusing on energy policy and security as well as EU relations with Russia and Ukraine.

Poland
Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk
Social activist

Agnieszka is among Poland’s most recognised social activists and a strong advocate of women’s rights. In 2015, she was instrumental in leading demonstrations that became known as ‘Black Monday’, in which Polish women protested against anti-abortion laws. Days after Black Monday, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against the proposal and the Minister of Science and Higher Education Jaroslaw Gowin said the protests “caused us to think and taught us humility.” Agnieszka is a board member of the leftist Razem party and, in 2016, was listed as one of top 100 most influential Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Journal.

United Kingdom
Colum Eastwood
Leader, Social Democratic & Labour Party (SDLP)

Colum has been at the heart of the post-conflict success story in Derry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland. He was only 27 years old when he was elected as the city’s mayor in 2010. In this position, he championed Derry as a city of culture and transformed its image. Throughout the years, Colum continuously stood against dissident republican violence and steadfastly called for an end to terrorist activities by armed groups. Following his election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011, Colum was appointed as the SDLP representative on the committee overseeing the work of First Minister and Deputy First Minister. He currently sits on the Committee for Communities, which plays a key role in debating and developing legislation.

Jordan
Lina Ejeilat
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 7iber.com

Lina is co-founder and editor-in-chief of 7iber.com, a Jordanian citizen media platform and online magazine, created to inform and engage communities in order to develop a more open society. It is known for publishing taboo political, economic, social, and religious topics that mainstream media avoid. In addition to its online presence, 7iber.com delivers trainings, workshops, debates, and talks. Lina advocates for freedom of press, universal rights and access to information, taking part in numerous meetings and conferences in order to promote these. 

Belgium
Adil El Arbi
Film Director and Screenwriter

Adil co-directed three movies, one TV series and two award-winning short movies. His two first feature movies, ‘Image’ (2010) and ‘Black’ (2015), co-directed with his friend Bilall Fallah, are set in run-down districts of Brussels. ‘Black’, which features non-professional young actors, premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. The plot brings a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ love story to street gangs in modern-day Brussels. Adil became a celebrity by winning ‘The Smartest Person in the World’ quiz on Flemish television. In 2016, the renowned American producer Jerry Bruckheimer entrusted him and Bilall Fallah with the direction of ‘Beverly Hills Cop 4’, the latest in a series of movies starring Eddie Murphy.

Morocco
Othman El Ferdaous
Secretary of State for Investment Ministry of Industry, Investment, Trade & Digital Economy, MENA Delegate

Othman El Ferdaous is a public affairs and strategic communication professional, listed among the 50 most influential Moroccans under 40 by Telquel Magazine in 2016. He is a strong advocate for EU-Maghreb integration and founded clubgibraltar.org, a non-profit organization aiming to provide a "South-North" perspective on European affairs, especially policy and institutions matters regarding the Mediterranean and Africa. He is also a board member of Sciences Po Alumni Morocco, focused on fostering reverse brain drain by mentoring Moroccan students. He releases a monthly newsletter covering Moroccan issues read by +7000 subscribers.

Authors and speakers
Alex Parfitt
Alex Thier
Alex Wilks
Alexander Kirschall
Alexander Klimburg
Alexander Mattelaer
Alexander Medvedev
Alexander Nicoll
Alexander Obsieger
Alexander Seger