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
France
Nassira El Moaddem
Journalist

Nassira is a French journalist and one of the few female editors-in-chief of a French national media outlet. She began her career as a TV reporter and news anchor at Itele/Canal+ before joining France 2 where she worked as a reporter for the evening TV news. In 2016, she took the helm of the Bondy Blog, a news website that gives voices to the voiceless. In her work, Nassira puts the emphasis on local investigations, especially of marginalised people living on the outskirts of cities, particularly around Paris. 

Spain
Ignacio Escolar
Founder & Director El Diario

Ignacio is a journalist, political analyst and Founder and Director of www.eldiario.es, an online media political analysis site. Previously Ignacio founded and managed the well-known newspaper Publico. He also manages www.escolar.net, the most popular and widely read political blog in Spain, which was named best political and journalist blog of the year in 2008 and 2009. Ignacio is also the founder of Bitban, a technology and design consulting company for Internet media communication, working with clients all over the world. In 2009 he was awarded the José Manuel Porquet Journalism Prize, the Mujeres Progresistas Prize for declining to publish prostitution ads in Publico and the Nicolas Salmeron for Human Rights Prize.

Italy
Adriano Farano
CEO and Co-founder, Watchup

Adriano is the CEO and Co-founder of Watchup, a Silicon Valley-based start-up that brings the power of video journalism to the post-PC era with an Apple app that lets you build your daily newscast out of the world's most trusted news channels. He is a former EiR at StartX, the Stanford student start-up accelerator. Previously, he co-founded and ran from 2001 to 2009 Cafebabel.com, a pan-European online media outlet entirely translated in 6 languages that has thousands of contributors. In 2007, he was selected as a young leader in the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Adriano is a Political Science and International Relations graduate from LUISS University in Rome.

Malta
Aaron Farrugia
Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and Social Dialogue

Aaron was elected to the Maltese Parliament in June of 2017, and appointed Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds and Social Dialogue within the Ministry for European Affairs. Before his current position, Aaron ran the Malta Freeport, the first transhipment hub in the Mediterranean. He served as president of the Labour Youth Forum and was elected deputy mayor of Ta’ Xbiex in 2005. During the international financial crisis, he was appointed to a team of economic experts set up by the Young European Socialists and was elected as Education Secretary in the Maltese Labour Party’s Central Administration. Aaron also chaired the progressive think tank IDEAT, the party’s political foundation. In 2014, he founded the Anton Buttigieg Foundation, which seeks to promote social awareness in Malta, focusing on education as the primary tool for economic and social development.

Portugal
Alexandre Farto
Street Artist

Alexandre, known under the tag name ‘Vhils’, is a Portuguese street artist, best known for his urban murals, his use of urban settings – walls, doors, debris – as ‘canvasses’ or materials for his art, as well as the destructive processes by which he constructs art. Alexandre studied in London, and gained prominence when his work was showcased at the Cans Festival in London. As well as technically and visually innovative, Alexandre’s art has a social function as it attempts to cast a spotlight on situations of social injustice, and to create a dialogue around these. His work has since continued to gain recognition, with his work appearing in cities worldwide and he has been featured alongside street artists of the likes of Banksy.

Spain
Jorge Juan Fernandez Garcia
Director of Innovation, EIT Health

As EIT Health’s Director of Innovation, Jorge plays a vital role in shaping the wide range of innovation projects developed and supported by the organisation. Previously, Jorge was Director of E-Health within the Innovation Department at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona – a key example of a European healthcare provider using online care, telemedicine, mobile apps and health 2.0 tools to put the patient at the centre of care – and Director of Moebio, which develops healthcare entrepreneurs and future leaders. Jorge has more than 18 years of experience, with the last eight years fully dedicated to innovation, technology and entrepreneurship at the intersection of business, government, and academia. He regularly acts as advisor and mentor to healthcare start-ups and entrepreneurial acceleration programs, helping to create a stronger ecosystem in the biomedical and healthcare industries. 

Ireland
Mary Fitzgerald
Libya Analyst, Award-Winning Journalist and European Young Leader

Mary is a journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She has worked on Libya since 2011 and lived there throughout 2014. Her work has appeared in publications including the Economist, Foreign Policy, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Financial Times and the Guardian. She has conducted research on Libya for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMED) among others. She is a contributing author to an edited volume on the Libyan revolution published by Oxford University Press. In her previous role as Irish Times foreign affairs correspondent, she reported from 40 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. She is a member of the Global Women's Forum 'Rising Talents' network.

Portugal
Christina Fonseca
Co-Founder of Talkdesk

Cristina is a software engineer and tech entrepreneur, who co-founded one of Silicon Valley’s fastest growing companies, Talkdesk, a platform that allows anyone to quickly create a call centre online. Previously, Cristina has worked as a researcher at INESC-ID, a Portuguese non-profit institution conducting advanced research in electronics, energy, telecommunications and information technologies. Cristina is passionate about Artificial Intelligence and the impact of technology, and advises early-stage start-ups.

France
Clémentine Forissier
Editor in Chief at Contexte

Clémentine is a journalist who has gone from freelance reporting on the radio and in magazines to later becoming Chief Editor at EurActiv, France. She is now Chief Editor of Contexte, an online newspaper that focuses on French and European public policy which she co-founded in 2013. She is also Vice-President of Europresse, the association of French journalists who cover European affairs, and AJDE, an association for journalists who specifically report on energy issues. Educated in Paris and Brussels, Clémentine is a published author and was previously in charge of opening the Brussels office of the Robert Schuman Foundation. 

Italy
Nicola Formichella
CEO of the Buongoverno Foundation and Italianiinmente

Nicola is the Local Authorities and Parliamentarian Affairs Councillor for the Governor of Campania and the Deputy Head of Training for the national People of Freedom party (PDL). He is also CEO of the Buongoverno Foundation and of "Italianiinmente", a business accelerator and incubator for Italian start-ups. He was until recently a Member of the Italian Parliament’s EU Policy Committee and Head of the PDL party. Nicola started his career in the media sector as a TV station journalist for which he became Director in 1999. After working as a Parliamentary assistant, Nicola decided to run for the 2008 state legislative elections in the Campania region and was elected Deputy. Nicola holds a degree in Political Science from the Luiss Guido Carli University of Rome and a Master’s in Legislative Studies from the Istituto per la Documentazione e gli Studi Legislativi (ISLE) in Rome. 

Authors and speakers
Alexander Stubb
Alexander Van de Putte
Alexandra Makaroff
Alexandre Paquot
Alexey Gromyko
Alexey Uvarov
Alfred Pijpers
Alfredo Conte
Ali Majedi
Ali Zeddini