“We need to upgrade and modernise international fora to find solutions among nations”, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President said in her special address at the 50th World Economic Forum, speaking about the changing global order and Europe's vision about it.
She particularly highlighted climate change as a major global challenge, which requires us to act now, and explained the actions the European Union is undertaking to manage it.
“Europe will be the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. And it will do what it takes to unlock the investment, innovation and the creativity that is needed”, she said, adding that the European budget would mobilise EUR 1 trillion of investment over the next decade. The opportunities that come with the green transition equally help create innovation, value and jobs.
Von der Leyen encouraged the EU's trading partners to ‘work with us for a global level playing field', where no carbon border tax would be necessary. “This is an example of the new modern international frameworks we need. This shows that if you engage with Europe you will find a reliable partner, working for a more sustainable world”, she said.
In Davos, von der Leyen met with the U.S. President Donald Trump and discussed a number of issues important to EU-US relations. She used the opportunity to emphasise the unbreakable bonds between European and American societies and economies, built on decades of friendship and cooperation. “I am convinced that we can engage in a positive U.S.-EU agenda in trade, as well as on technology, energy and much more besides”, she stressed.
Speaking at the WEF, von der Leyen also explained how Europe was building a data economy, co-creating a framework to allow the use of non-personal industrial and commercial data as a source of innovation and new solutions.
“Pooling non-personal data will be one important pillar of our new data strategy. The other pillar is the protection of personal data”, she said pointing out that for the EU the protection of a person's digital identity was ‘the overriding priority'.
Speaking of Europe shaping its own future, von der Leyen acknowledged Europe had to step up in some fields, to be more assertive in the world. “It takes very little power to break a fragile balance. The true power lies in putting the pieces back together”, she said.
Investing more in long-term stability and preventing crises is where Europe can make a real difference. “Hard power always comes with diplomacy and conflict prevention; with the work on reconciliation and reconstruction, which is something Europeans know well, because we have gone through this, here in Europe”, she underlined.
Von der Leyen concluded by calling upon our collective responsibility to find ways of embracing change, and to rediscover power of cooperation. Cooperation based on fairness and mutual respect is what she called ‘the geopolitics of mutual interests' - one that Europe would work for.