Lisbon seminar

16 March 2017 - 12:30 - 18 March 2017 - 14:00

The European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme led 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 programme is organised under the patronage of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.

The European Young Leaders represent a 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 2017 class of European Young Leaders was selected by members of Friends of Europe’s Board of Trustees, which includes 11 former Prime Ministers.

The 2017 class of European Young Leaders will meet for the first time from 16 to 18 March 2017 in Lisbon. This seminar will give them an opportunity to meet in an informal setting and discuss key European challenges just a week before Europe marks the 60th anniversary of the EU’s founding treaty. It will focus on European leadership in a disruptive and fast-changing world marked by rising populism and extremist movements and will determine how Europe can better communicate its successes, deliver tangible results, improve how it works and re-connect with people.

Photo Gallery

European Young Leaders (EYL40) - Lisbon
IMAGE CREDIT: Bigstock – SeanPavonePhoto


Image (media)
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.

Brussels is not Europe, and the discussions that take place here are far from representative of the issues that concern many of Europe’s citizens. Governments across the world are struggling with this disconnect as citizens show an increasing lack of trust in politics and politicians. 


16 March
12.30 – 13.50

2017 EYL class welcome lunch

A moment to welcome the 2017 class of European Young Leaders to their first seminar and an opportunity for them to meet with their peers.

13.50 – 14.00

Welcome by Geert Cami / Co-Founder & Managing Director of Friends of Europe

What are we doing here — hopes, expectations and ambitions — the 2017 EYL40 programme overview.

14.00 – 15.30


Working in pairs in advance to share your story. In plenary introduce for 60 seconds your partner and tell their story to the wider group.

15.30 – 17.00

A NEW VISION FOR EUROPE: The trajectory of leadership over the years

The geopolitical landscape is shifting around us. 60 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, Europe’s political certainties are being questioned by the migration crisis, Brexit, Trumpism in the United States and populism in Europe. It is now time for Europe to use its current challenges to change and focus on better communicating its successes, delivering tangible results, educating people about its core values and improving how it works. How can Europe go back to the fundamental values at the core of its project? How can it build on its economic weight to help reshape the global agenda? How can it display resilience in its words and actions?

A conversation with:
Carlos Moedas / EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
Taavi Rõivas / Vice President of the Estonian Parliament and Prime Minister of Estonia (2014-2016)

17.00 – 17.30

Coffee break

17.30 – 18.30

THROUGH THICK AND THIN: What lessons can we learn from Portugal’s leadership?

Portugal has stayed the course despite significant challenges in recent years. The country didn’t go through the 2008 economic crisis unscathed. But after years of austerity policies, Portugal is restoring its economy health, avoiding populism, and experiencing shared leadership between a centre-right President and a centre-left Prime Minister. During this plenary session, EYLs will have the opportunity to discuss the politics of austerity, the fight against populism and this unusual political ‘cohabitation’ with representatives of different political parties. They will determine whether there are lessons there for the rest of Europe.

Introductory remarks by:
Teresa Anjinho
 / CDS-PP Member and Secretary of State for Justice (2015)
Miguel Morgado / Vice President of the PSD Group in the Portuguese Parliament
João Torres / Vice President of the PS Group in the Portuguese Parliament

Moderated by:
Ricardo Baptista Leite / Member of the PSD Group in the Portuguese Parliament and 2015-2016 European Young Leader


Time off


Dinner in Lisbon with Fado music


17 March
09.30 – 10.30

Recent elections and referendums have shaken the liberal democratic order. The old rules no longer seem to apply, with social media contributing to the development of ‘post-truth’ politics in which perceptions seem to count for more than facts. At the same time extremist forces who threaten democracy are using democratic means to access power. How can European democracies and the EU institutions face up to these challenges? What measures should be taken to curb the rise of extremist and populist tendencies? Is it time for a radical rethink of how we perceive ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’?

Introductory remarks by:
Luis Morago / Campaigns Director at Avaaz
Tiberiu Pfiszter / Romanian anti-corruption activist

Reactions by:
Inés Arrimadas García / Leader of the Opposition in the Catalan Parliament and 2017 European Young Leader
Zanda Kalnina-Lukaševica / Latvian Parliamentary State Secretary for European Affairs and 2017 European Young Leader

10.30 – 11.00

Coffee break

11.00 – 12.00


PARALLEL SESSION I – BREXIT: How can we restart the European engine?

Britain’s referendum vote to leave the EU has delivered a profound shock to the continent. The looming departure of one of the EU’s strongest diplomatic, economic and military powers is a serious blow for the European project. How can Europe fight against general apathy and move forward? How can we bring back optimism and trust in our common destiny?

Introductory remarks by:

Denis MacShane / British Minister of State for Europe (2002-2005)

Tim Oliver / Dahrendorf Fellow at the London School of Economics

Moderated by:

Owen Jones / Columnist for the Guardian and 2017 European Young Leader

PARALLEL SESSION II – UNITED STATES: The end of a long-lasting alliance?

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is a game-changer for transatlantic relations. The triumph of ‘America first’ is likely to see the US retreat from the world and question former alliances. It also gives Europe a unique opportunity to play a bigger role in international relations. How can Europe fill the vacuum? Can it be the new beacon of hope?

An interview of Anthony L. Gardner / Visiting Fellow at the College of Europe and US Ambassador to the EU (2014-2017) by Mehdi Hasan / Broadcaster, Journalist and Presenter at Al Jazeera International and 2017 European Young Leader

12.00 – 13.00


13.00 – 14.30


Spend time organising yourselves, thinking through the issues and how you intend to discuss the topic and come to an agreement. Ensure you have a set of recommendations to share with the wider group; present your dilemma and areas of disagreement; also consider and take account of what you think good leadership is about.


Migration is an issue that continues to be high on Europe’s agenda. It is often combined with the refugee crisis, perceptions of social welfare abuse and terrorism. But can we educate people and change the narrative to the positive impact – and the necessity – of migration in an ageing and economically stagnant Europe? And what can the EU do in terms of job creation and social integration to ensure that it delivers for its citizens and residents, old and new?

Scene setter:

Philippe Legrain / Founder of the Open Political Economy Network (OPEN) and Author of ‘Immigrants: Your country needs them’


Michael Printzos / Programme Director at The Hellenic Initiative and 2015-2016 European Young Leader


Muna Duzdar / Austrian Secretary of State for Diversity, Public Service and Digitalisation and 2017 European Young Leader



COP21 and COP22 were successful steps towards tackling climate change, but there is still a long way to go before reaching global emissions targets. New technologies could ease the shift to cleaner energy through digitalisation, low-carbon mobility and smarter grids. Europe spearheads the green transition, but it relies heavily on only a few suppliers, and lacks adequate interconnections. How can Europe lead the move to a competitive low-carbon economy while boosting energy security?

Scene setter:

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele / Professor of Climatology and Environmental Sciences at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and Vice Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2008-2015)


Jane Burston / Head of Climate and Environment at the UK National Physical Laboratory and 2015-2016 European Young Leader


Kirsten Brosbøl / Member of Parliament, Danish Minister of the Environment (2014-2015) and 2017 European Young Leader



The ability to count, read and write are key elements of education, but many thousands of European school-leavers lack these basic skills. Meanwhile the range of skills needed by young people is enlarging, with the digital revolution transforming how we learn and how we work. How can Europe prepare its education infrastructure to deal with the challenges of the 21st century? Is civic education the silver bullet to fight populism?

Scene setter:

Montserrat Gomendio / Deputy Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Spanish Secretary of State for Education, Professional Training and Universities (2012-2015)


Kamilla Sultanova / Chair of Global Dignity Finland and 2015-2016 European Young Leader


Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin / Lecturer at the University College Dublin School of Mathematics and Statistics and 2017 European Young Leader



While some innovative US start-ups such as Airbnb and Uber have already become big global players, digital as a driver for growth remains largely a story of untapped potential on this side of the Atlantic. Europe is struggling to keep pace with the digital transition and is failing to fulfil its digital promise. How can Europe successfully transform its economy? How can it fully benefit from digital market initiatives and stop the brain drain? How can it create a culture of innovation?

Scene setter:

Fabio Pianesi / Research Director at EIT Digital


Michal Štencl / Founder & CEO of Sygic and 2017 European Young Leader


Kaja Kallas / Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and 2017 European Young Leader

14.30 – 15.00


An opportunity for EYLs to share the recommendations that came out of the working groups in plenary.

Kirsten Brosbøl / Member of Parliament, Danish Minister of the Environment (2014-2015) and 2017 European Young Leader
Muna Duzdar / Austrian Secretary of State for Diversity, Public Service and Digitalisation and 2017 European Young Leader
Kaja Kallas / Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and 2017 European Young Leader
Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin / Lecturer at the University College Dublin School of Mathematics and Statistics and 2017 European Young Leader

15.00 – 15.30

Coffee break

15.30 – 18.00

PARALLEL STUDY VISITS: New ideas for Europe

Two success stories from the Lisbon region will open their doors to European Young Leaders for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes visit to showcase their achievements, share good practices and inspire.

A. Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown – Championing research in health

The Champalimaud Foundation is a private biomedical research foundation that aims to develop programmes of advanced biomedical research and provide excellent clinical care.

B. DNA Cascais – Promoting innovation through entrepreneurship

DNA Cascais is a business incubator whose mission is to foster entrepreneurship in Cascais and in the Lisbon region through the development and promotion of social and young entrepreneurship.

18.00 – 19.00

Time off


Dinner in Cascais in the presence of the President of Portugal, H.E. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa


18 March
10.00 – 10.05

Welcoming remarks by Luís Jerónimo from the Human Development Programme of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

10.05 – 11.00

BEHIND THE SCENES OVER BREAKFAST: Connecting with EYLs and alumni

Over breakfast, short conversations with EYL40 alumni on issues that matter to them, to gain expertise from this resourceful network.

10.05 – 10.30

1 – Reaching biotechnology holy grails: Creating organs in labs
by Eleni Antoniadou, Co-Founder of Transplants without Donors and 2017 European Young Leader

2 – Libya: Why it matters and why it has given me too many grey hairs
by Mary Fitzgerald, Libya Analyst, Award-Winning Journalist, Columnist for the Irish Independent and 2013 European Young Leader

3 – Europe’s cultural heritage: Are we investing enough?
by Eduardo Portal, Conductor and Founder of Antares Ensemble and 2017 European Young Leader

4 – A risk-averse continent: Challenges or opportunities for startups in Europe?
by Dimitris Tsingos, Founder and Head of Entrepreneurship at StartTech Ventures and 2013 European Young Leader

10.30 – 11.00

1 – How I meet the challenge of sustainability in my 3-star restaurant
by Eneko Atxa, Chef at three-Michelin-starred restaurant Azurmendi and 2017 European Young Leader

2 – What does it mean to be a Muslim woman in Europe today?
by Myriam François, Columnist for the New Statesman, Research Associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS) at SOAS University of London and 2017 European Young Leader

3 – AI and robots: What’s in it for humans?
by Jakob Haesler, Co-Founder of Project Alloy & 2013 European Young Leader

4 – How to make EU citizens enthusiastic about Europe again?
by Juhan Lepassaar, Head of Cabinet to European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip

11.00 – 11.15

Coffee break

11.15 – 12.00


Three days after a key election in the Netherlands, it is a good time to reflect on the essentials for leadership in the 21st century. Based on what you have learned in the previous sessions, think about how better models of leadership might be promoted, rated and showcased, using social media or other routes. How can leaders combat anti-democratic and populist movements that are gaining ground across Europe? What can be done to protect the democratic order and stem the extremist tide that is rising in France, Germany and Italy ahead of national elections?

12.00 – 13.00


What will you do, how will you connect with each other and how can we help.

13.00 – 14.00

Lunch and end of seminar

With the support of
Jean-Yves Stenuick, Programme Manager
Tel.: +32 2 893 98 25
Contact form
To register or if you have any questions about this event, please contact us using the form below.