European Young Leaders


What do a microbiologist, an entrepreneur, a journalist and a Member of Parliament have in common?

They are all European Young Leaders who are engaged in making Europe a global champion for a better world.

The European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme, organised by Friends of Europe, is a unique, inventive and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents and initiatives.

The programme is supported by renowned and solid foundations such as the Fondazione Cariplo and the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation.

The European Young Leaders represent promising European leadership from all over the continent, with a wide variety of backgrounds including politics, business, civil society, academia, arts, science and the media.

Every year, they meet for two three-day seminars in symbolic European cities, joined by decision-makers, stakeholders and key European actors to discuss issues of common concern and develop concrete proposals and recommendations to tackle the challenges facing Europe and its citizens.

The European Young Leaders now represent a network of more than 180 alumni.

Meet the Class of 2019

Stay tuned for more information on the programme and the activities of the new class and the alumni ‒ follow EYL40 on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Meet the European Young Leaders
Riccardo Lattanzi
Assistant Professor at New York University

Riccardo is a biomedical scientist who develops technology to improve the diagnostic power of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Riccardo achieved his PhD in Medical and Electrical Engineering from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2008. An Assistant Professor of Radiology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, he is also a course director and research supervisor at New York University, and has written numerous conference papers, book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. Riccardo holds the patents for the apparatus, method and computer-accessible medium for a high resolution magnetic resonance imager, and dipole array arrangement. For his scientific research, he has won the prestigious I.I. Rabi Young Investigator Award of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and an NSF CAREER Award.

Beatrice Leanza
Cultural strategist and Co-Founder of B/Side Design

Based in Beijing since 2002, Beatrice is a cultural strategist and writer with a background in Asian studies and fifteen-year experience in developing programmes of urban and social impact. She served as creative director of Beijing Design Week (2012 - 2016), China’s largest and internationally best reputed design and architecture event, and was creative director of the urban regeneration plan for Baitasi historic district in Beijing (2015-2016), shaping stakeholders’ relations across the governmental, private and public sectors. In 2017 she co-founded B/Side Design an inclusive organisation currently establishing The Global School, the first independent institute for design and multidisciplinary research in the PRC. She is an advisory board member of Design Trust (Hong Kong) and an advocate of practical creativity for educational empowerment in sustainable futures.

Sandor Lederer
Co-Founder & CEO K-Monitor

Sandor is the Co-Founder and CEO of K-Monitor, a non-profit public funds watchdog based in Budapest. The NGO was founded to improve the current levels of transparency and the rule of law in Hungary. Civic participation and technology driven solutions are among the organizations key instruments. Beside K-Monitor’s tech focus, the organization is also active in anti-corruption advocacy and research. Sandor was contributing to the European Commission’s Anti-corruption Report as the Local Research Country Correspondent for Hungary. One of the recent projects K-Monitor has been working on is, a program that uses algorithmic indicators to analyze risky public procurements.

Jacek Legiewicz
Public Affairs Director Samsung Electronics

In addition to his role as Public Affairs Director for Samsung, Jacek is a Member of the Supervisory Board for ElekroEko, which Poland’s largest organisation for the recovery and management of electronic waste and recycling. Jacek spent seven years at CEC Government Relations, the leading independent public affairs agency in Central Europe. In parallel to his corporate career, he has been active in the IT industry as Vice President of the Polish IT and Telecom Chamber and a Member of the Executive Board of Digital Europe. Jacek has also been active in local and national politics: he was a Parliamentary candidate in 1997 and former Advisor to the Minister of Youth and Family Affairs. 

Axelle Lemaire
Socialist Party Member of the French Parliament for the constituency of Northern Europe

Axelle is a Socialist Party Member of the French Parliament for the constituency of Northern Europe, elected in 2012 as a Member of the European Affairs Committee and Secretary for the Bills Committee. She previously served as Secretary of the French Socialist Party (PS) in London. After working as a lawyer and law researcher at University, her keen interest in politics brought her to the House of Commons, where she spent several years working for a Labour MP. She also chaired the UK branch of the Socialist Party for five years. Axelle has attended some of the most prestigious universities, among which Sciences Po and Assas, in Paris, and in Great Britain, King’s College.

Juhan Lepassaar
Member of Cabinet of Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Transport, European Commission

Juhan is Member of Cabinet of Vice-President Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for Transport since 2013. Currently, he is responsible for coordinating policy in the fields of rail and road transport and also covers non-portfolio issues such as energy policy, internal affairs, Economic and Monetary Union and the Eastern Partnership. Before he was Director for EU Affairs at the Government Office in Estonia. In this capacity he acted as the Prime Minister's chief adviser for EU affairs and head of Estonia's inter-ministerial coordination system of EU policy. He conducted the high-level negotiations for the 2014-2020 MFF, and participated in the EU's response to the international financial crisis and subsequent reform of the EMU. Juhan holds an MA in Contemporary European Policy from the University of Sussex and a degree in Comparative Politics from University of Tartu. He has also studied interior design at the Estonian Art Academy.

Ania Lichota
Executive Coach, Inside Out

In 1996, Ania left Poland by bus with just one bag to study at the London School of Economics. Since then she has lived in 9 countries and worked in 17 executive positions. She has climbed the highest peak on every continent and wrote a best-selling book: Why the Hell Bother? How Climbing the Seven Summits Changed My Life. She has founded her own charity build and renovated schools in Nepal and is Chairwoman of the Polish Psychologists Association in London. In 2010, Ania received the Woman of the Year award by the Polish press in London and the Inclusive and Inspirational Leadership award from the Chairman of UBS Investment Bank for her work as a Global Change Leader. After having transformed her own life on many levels she is now an executive coach, inspiring others through public speaking and leading workshops in leadership and personal development. Ania holds an MBA and PhD in Leadership and International Management, an MSc in Social and Organisational Psychology and an MSc in Management and Marketing.

Guillaume Liegey
Co-founder, Liegey Muller Pons

Guillaume is an expert in electoral strategy. He began his career in Beijing before joining the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for 4 years in France and in the United States. In 2012, he joined the French presidential campaign team of François Hollande, in which he oversaw the field campaign strategy to reach out to 5 million households, led the rollout of the campaign in 30 departments and coordinated the communication strategy. He then co-founded a political strategy firm Liegey Muller Pons to help other European political parties improve the way they run their election campaigns and engage with citizens before and after the polls. Guillaume is the co-author of Porte-à-porte, Reconquérir la démocratie sur le terrain (2013). He is also a lecturer at Sciences Po Paris, where he teaches a course on electoral campaigns. Guillaume is a graduate of HEC and Harvard, holding a Master in Public Administration and a MSc in Management.

Helena Linder-Jess
First female Commanding Officer in the German Navy

As the first woman as Commanding Officer in the German Navy (FGS Datteln), Helena has participated in several international missions under the United Nations and NATO with her crew. In this role, she has been responsible for all issues concerning her ship, crew and assignments, including extensive training and combat cycles. Helena is the first woman ever to take over the command of a German navy ship.

United Kingdom
Clare Lockhart
Co-Founder and Director, Institute for State Effectiveness

Clare is Co-founder and Director of the Institute for State Effectiveness, an initiative dedicated to understanding the balance between state, market and civil society in the 21st century and to creating actionable tools and approaches to enhance stability. In addition, she directs the Marketing Building Initiative of the Aspen Institute. Among many awards and prizes, Clare has been appointed Fellow of Harvard University, named one of Foreign Policy’s Top Global Thinkers, and was appointed Chair of the Fragile States Council for the World Economic Forum during the 2011-12 term. Clare also participated in the Bonn Agreement as an advisor to the UN and the Government of Afghanistan.

European Young Leaders
European Young Leaders
A Question of leadership?
- 12:30
Empowering citizens across Europe
- 19:00
European Young Leaders (EYL40) Valletta Seminar
High Level Dialogue with Young Mediterranean Voices & EYL40 Young Leaders
- 12:30
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.

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.


Individuals can be nominated to the European Young Leaders programme by several means.

  • Institutional partners

A wide network of European organisations is called upon to recommend high-potential individuals to Friends of Europe.

  • Pre-selection by Friends of Europe’s Board of Trustees and other outstanding personalities

Our Board of Trustees and a limited selection of outstanding personalities from different sectors (business, politics, media, science and the arts) are asked to nominate young leaders that could be considered in the selection process. 

For a list of Friends of Europe’s Board of Trustees, please click here.

  • Alumni

Every year, the alumni network of the European Young Leaders programme is called upon to send in recommendations to Friends of Europe. Given their experience of the programme, we consider the alumni extremely knowledgeable about who is the best fit for such a leadership programme.

Candidates should send a biography (including their date of birth and full contact details), a recent high-resolution photo and a cover letter outlining the relevant achievements and experiences that make them a viable candidate, also highlighting the means by which they hope to contribute to the European Young Leaders network and the development of the programme.


  • Candidates must be between 30 and 40 years of age (born on or after 1 January 1979);
  • Candidates must be a national of an EU member state or of one of the 6 Balkan states currently on the path towards EU integration (Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro);
  • Candidates should have established themselves 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 seminar during the programme year.

To be considered for the 2020 selection process, all applications and nominations must be sent to:
Application deadline: Monday, 3 June 2019


Spring 2020 3-day seminar in a European city
Autumn 2020 3-day seminar in a European city
Ongoing European Young Leaders are involved in (virtual) working groups throughout the year, allowing their input from afar into the topics and projects of their choice based on their availability and interest.
October 2020 Exclusive invitation to the President’s Gala Dinner and Friends of Europe’s annual State of Europe ‘high-level’ roundtable, which are attended by several Heads of State and Government, and a few hundred other personalities from across Europe and beyond.
October 2020 Participation in the European Young Leaders alumni meeting in Brussels, open to all current and previous European Young Leaders.

With the support of

latsis cariplo eucom Coca-Cola logo