The European Commission will be represented by its President at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), signalling the closer ties Ursula von der Leyen has with the exclusive gathering, compared with her predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker.
A Commission spokesperson confirmed to EURACTIV that von der Leyen will attend the Davos meeting, to be held on 21-24 January under the theme “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.”
Von der Leyen and Juncker had diverging views when it comes to the elite meeting in the Swiss Alps.
The German politician was not only a regular attendee during her period as Defense minister but also a WEF board member, a position she no longer holds.
Juncker, however, was “not a great fan” of the forum, a Commission spokesperson said at the time, and criticized his Commissioners because as a large number of them travelled to the ski resort for panel discussions and meetings.
Juncker never visited the forum during his five-year mandate (2014-2019). He was expected to travel to Davos in 2018, but he had to cancel at the last minute due to stomach flu.
European Council President, Charles Michel, another regular at the forum, will also travel to Davos later this month.
This year, Europe’s new green deal, its growth strategy after Brexit, its priorities and leverage in an unstable world will be part of the official agenda.
Von der Leyen is expected to present the priorities of her ‘geopolitical’ Commission to decision-makers and business leaders, at a time when Europeans are struggling to establish a role in the ongoing Libyan crisis and in de-escalating tensions between US and Iran.
Last year, von der Leyen wrote in an article for the forum that said, “as we strengthen the profile of the EU in diplomacy and defence, we will be able to better tackle the challenges around us.”
Europe’s lesson to a polarized world is the willingness to achieve mutual benefits through compromises, she added.
Edited by Samuel Stolton