In 2008, Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament, received an award for European Integration from the city of Frankfurt and took the initiative to use the money to invite young leaders from Palestine, Israel and the EU to the European Parliament.
The success of this meeting led the European Parliament to decide in 2009 that the event would be organised on an annual basis and receive dedicated funding.
Expanding the programme
In 2012, the forum was opened to participants from Egypt and Jordan. Since 2013, the event has run under the umbrella of the European Parliament's Young Leaders Forum as its Middle East edition.
On the basis this successful Young Leaders Forum - Middle East, the European Parliament decided to extend the event to young leaders from both the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and the Maghreb countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia). The first forums, called "Young Leaders Forum: Eastern Partnership - EU" and "Young Leaders Forum: Maghreb - EU", were organised in 2013.
The Young Leaders Forum was meant to benefit from the neutral environment of the European Parliament, where participants can build confidence and trust.
Benefits and aims
Hosting Young Leaders from both EU and the EU's neighbourhood is above all a networking exercise that connects the participants with one another and with some of the EU's key political players.
Its aim is to foster mutual understanding and develop converging visions at a stage of the participants' careers when their responsibilities still allow for unconventional thinking: it can be considered one of the European Parliament's modest, but concrete, investments in the human capital and the leadership of tomorrow - in the EU, and beyond.