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 in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future.
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.
The programme was initially conceived with EuropaNova, a Paris-based think-tank.
Elected at the age of 29, Julia has been a Member of the German federal Parliament since 2013. Her political work focuses on defence and security policies in the Committee on Defence, which plays an important part in the adoption of the defence budget and the procurement of materiel for the armed forces. In 2004, Julia joined the centre-right Christian Social Union (CSU), the counterpart of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Bavaria. Julia started her career as a lecturer at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich before joining the office of the CSU Secretary General. She then held several political positions at a local level and various functions in the CSU. As a member of the CSU policy committee, she played an important role in drafting the new party manifesto.
Kaja Kallas started her career as a lawyer in Estonia. In 2011, she was elected Member of the Estonian Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Economic Affairs. In 2014, she was elected to the European Parliament, where she sits on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. A member of the ALDE Group, Kaja is also part of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Digital Agenda, an informal network of MEPs interested in digital technologies and how they can benefit society. She is a proponent of innovation and frequently emphasises that regulations should not hinder the technological revolution. Kallas has been the author of five reports in the European Parliament, including of an own-initiative report on the Digital Single Market.
In addition to her position at the Poznan University of Economics, Katarzyna is a member of the Committee for Future Studies at the Polish Academy of Social Sciences. Her research interests include development and international economics, with a focus on East Asian markets. Katarzyna also explores the challenges to global development. She led several research projects for the National Bureau of Research in Poland and finalised a recent project on the economic potential of developing countries in Africa. Her academic achievements have been recognised by numerous awards, including one for outstanding young scholars from Poland’s Minister of Science and Higher Education in 2012. Katarzyna has published numerous articles and books on issues relating to development, governance, integration and regional cooperation.
Kirsten has represented the Social Democrats in the Danish Parliament since 2005. She was a rapporteur on research and higher education as well as on gender equality and food. She was appointed as Denmark’s Minister of the Environment in 2014, in the government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt. In that position, she facilitated the development of sustainable solutions and contributed to the development of industrial growth and workplaces in Denmark. In the 2015 general election, she was re-elected to the Danish Parliament. Kirsten is the co-founder of the Bilateral Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The network operates across party lines in the Danish Parliament to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights at a national and international level.
Lara is a serial entrepreneur. In 2009, she founded Dealissime, a website providing buyer groups with daily offers relating to products and services for women. By 2011 it had been acquired by LivingSocial, part of the Amazon group. In 2013, she launched Selectionnist, which seeks to bridge the gap between offline content and online experience by allowing users to find any item featured in French fashion magazines through a mobile application. Selectionnist is also a high-performance analytics tool for both advertisers and publishers and is currently working with more than 30 top magazines in France, such as Elle and Marie Claire. The venture raised €2m in seed financing. Lara is also a member of the French Digital Council, which aims to make recommendations on the impact of digital technologies on society.
A graduate of the Paris Institute of Political Science and the University of Princeton, Marguerite began her career in 2004 as an auditor at France’s General Inspectorate of Finance, where she was responsible for auditing public bodies. She then served as an adviser to the French President on questions related to employment and social protection before heading the private office of the French Minister of Labour, Employment and Health. In 2012, Marguerite joined Groupe BPCE, the second-largest banking group in France. Four years later, she became a member of its Management Board and was appointed as Chief Executive Officer for Finance, Legal Affairs and Strategy. She has been a member of the French High Council of Public Finances since 2013.
Markus is the founder of the Financing Agency for Social Entrepreneurship (FASE), a leading financial intermediary that helps social enterprises scale their social impact by helping them raise hybrid growth capital. FASE has built an open pipeline of investment-ready social enterprises and closed sixteen transactions leveraging around €6m in impact investments. Markus is also a member of the Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES), a consultative multi-stakeholder group on social business that examines the progress of measures foreseen by the European Commission. He has experience of working with many social enterprises in finding appropriate financing solutions and scaling-up the impact of proven business models. Markus worked for seven years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where one of his roles was providing pro-bono consulting for social entrepreneurs.
Mary Fitzgerald is a journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She began her career reporting on post-conflict Northern Ireland, and since then she has worked across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Fitzgerald has conducted researches on Libya for well-known think-tanks and institutes, and is a contributing author to an edited volume on the Libyan revolution published by Oxford University Press. She has worked on a number of award-winning radio documentaries for the BBC, one of which won a Gold Sony Radio Academy Award.
Based in Nairobi, Matina covers economics and investment across Africa for the Wall Street Journal. She was previously based in Belgium, where she covered the eurozone crisis from the WSJ Brussels bureau. Before joining the WSJ, she wrote for the Economist, where she won the 2010 Marjorie Deane financial journalism award. Matina is particularly interested in migration-related issues in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. In 2015, she was one of the few foreign journalists reporting from Eritrea as part of an exclusive investigation into Eritrean refugees. She has written for other top media outlets such as Eleftherotypia and the Guardian and has appeared as a political commentator on European and Greek affairs on Al Jazeera English and the BBC.