In a special address delivered at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, emphasized the need to tackle misinformation and disinformation and address polarization.
“This is a time to build trust – to deepen global collaboration more than ever before,” said von der Leyen. “Europe can and must take the lead in shaping the global response.”
She cited the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2024 report, which found that misinformation and disinformation are among the most significant short-term risks. It also puts artificial intelligence (AI) as one of the top potential risks for the next decade.
Von der Leyen said that “Europe must up its game” on AI, as the continent readies landmark legislation to curb possible AI abuse.
“Europe is leading the way on responsible AI, and our future competitiveness depends on responsible AI adoption,” she said. Priorities include strengthening the EU Artificial Intelligence Act, identifying high-risk applications and making use of Europe’s unrivalled quality of data and world-class supercomputers.
Von der Leyen also said Europe is uniquely placed to take the lead when it comes to energy security. “Europe has taken its energy destiny back into its own hands,” she said, adding that energy prices have dropped, gas supplies are restored and investments in green energy are paying off.
The European Union produced more electricity from solar and wind than from gas in 2023; this year Europe is set to produce more energy from solar and from wind than it gets from Russia.
Regarding other European affairs, the EC president said that Sweden should join NATO soon, following Finland’s accession in April 2023, and Ukraine is “closer than ever on its path to the European Union”.
“It was with immense joy that last month [December] we decided to launch the accession negotiations for Ukraine’s EU membership. This will be Ukraine’s historic achievement. And it will be Europe responding to the call of history,” she said.