Ursula in Davos

This week Ursula was in Davos at the World Economic Forum where she delivered the opening speech and a longer speech later on. During her speech, she focused on three things mainly: global warming, digitalisation and security. All issues are vital for a flourishing economy according to von der Leyen.

Twitter: @vonderLeyen

Global Warming

At the beginning of her speech, Ursula called for more multilateralism, especially on efforts to combat global warming. Because the top five risks to the global economy are all related to global warming. Which is why the European Union will present the European Green Deal with the aim of becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.  In order to do so, the Commission will dedicate one trillion euros in its budget towards green projects over the next decade. Von der Leyen calls for the EU to see the opportunity this provides and to take it. Becoming climate-neutral will require a lot of innovation which will in return create jobs within the EU. But, she also emphasises that the EU cannot simply shift its CO2 production to outside the EU. CO2 heavy steel in China imported into the EU still caused damage to the environment, at the same time, the EU will protect itself from unfair practises from abroad. At the end of her remarks about global warming, she highlighted the importance of a European CO2 pricing system.


When Ursula talked about the topic of digitalisation she could not get enough of Data. Because Data is a resource as well, a resource of which 85% goes to waste in Europe without ever being analysed. That is not sustainable! But, we are still in Europe and Europeans, of course, Ursula cares about Data privacy. (That is why she deleted all the phone data of her phone while being under investigation for corruption during her time of Germany’s minister of defence, they were private…) Which is why she advocated for a European Open Science Cloud with non-personalised information. Because individual rights are important, otherwise, why else did we create the GDPR? So that we would be busy checking privacy policy boxes all day long? Ursula closed the topic of digitalisation by emphasising that Europe needs to set the standards in AI, which the world will follow. As the world did with the GDPR, critics predicted the demise of Europe and called it a suicide but other countries are starting to copy these standards in fear of losing access to the European market.


On the matter of security, von der Leyen did not elaborate too much. She mentioned the evolving situation in Libya and that it is in everyone’s interest to avoid a crisis from happening. While Europe is the largest donor of development aid (more than the entire world combined) it does not have the impact it wishes to have. For a more powerful impact, she advocated for a European Army complementary to NATO but with its own European approach to foreign policy. While the EU needs a capable army, hard power always remains the last option, von der Leyen assured. The goal is geopolitics of mutual interest.

How did she say it?

As some of you might know, and now you do know, I have a great passion for Speech and Debate. Which is why I will also provide you with a quick analysis of her tone and style of her speech in Davos. If you watch the video of her speech you will feel her motherly approach to speaking about complex and even worrying issues. Aside from being a mother of seven children herself, this style does not come from anywhere. It originates from her, sometimes mentor, sometimes friend, Angela Merkel who is famously being called “Mutti” (Mommy) in Germany. Ursula’s ability to switch between the three major European languages only supports this warming and comforting feeling towards her.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordination Communications