Commission President to attend Davos gathering

Ursula von der Leyen speaks as Germany's Minister of Defence at a panel session during the 49th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, 24 January 2019. The meeting brought together entrepreneurs, scientists, corporate and political leaders in Davos under the topic 'Globalization 4.0' from 22 to 25 January 2019. [EPA-EFE/LAURENT GILLIERON]

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 cancels trip to Davos due to stomach flu

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker cancelled on Wednesday (24 January) his highly anticipated appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) due to stomach flu, EU sources confirmed to EURACTIV.

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.

Davos wrap-up: Watch out for a self-inflicted recession

Decision-makers and business leaders attending Davos forum last week warned of the risk of triggering self-inflicted recession if the growing pessimistic due to the economic slowdown or political instability persist.

Edited by Samuel Stolton

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