Global elites gathered in Davos this week but is the annual shindig in the Swiss Alps really the best place to cure the world’s ills? Our panel was quite critical.
Brussels, my love? was a Davos special this week, with Méabh McMahon on the ground to get insights into conversations, speeches, as well as interviews with some of the conference’s heaviest hitters.
The Davos meeting’s theme this year was “Rebuilding Trust” which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen touched upon in her speech, warning that the “top concern for the next two years isn’t conflict or climate. It is disinformation and misinformation, followed closely by polarisation within our societies.”
2024 is an especially important year on that front as over half the world’s population will cast a vote including in the European Parliament election in June, and the US Presidential in November.
EU Commissioner for Transparency Věra Jourová also discussed misinformation, telling Méabh in an interview that “uncertainty is one of the drivers of the far-right with Big Tech”. She added that in her discussions with platforms such as social media firms like Meta, Tik-Tok, and X (formerly Twitter), she stresses “the need to protect our electoral system against hidden manipulation”.
Dharmendra Kanani from Friends of Europe who joined us in the studio back in Brussels said: “I would like to hear more is what they (the Commission) have been doing the past 18 months. We haven’t just discovered we’re having an election this year.”
Anna Nalyvayko from the Wilfried Martens Centre was another one of our panellists and she concurred.
“It is not happening just now. It has been happening for years. We have seen this, you know, happening, I think, for at least the past ten years, but it’s only now being taken seriously. And I think what is very important to think about here is that misinformation and disinformation can undermine the legitimacy of newly-elected government,” she said.
The Davos meeting is now always preceded by a report by Oxfam on wealth inequalities worldwide. This year’s edition revealed that the world’s five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes to almost €800 billion since 2020, while the world’s poorest 60% – almost 5 billion people – have lost money.
The NGO’s Interim Director Amitabh Behar described it as the “era of billionaire supremacy where people with gigantic bank balances – often greater controlling economy, systems, policies, making them richer and richer.”
Petros Fassoulas, the Secretary General of the European Movement International and our third panellist this week, said in reaction that people are “feeling that the democratic system we have at the moment isn’t delivering for them.”
Many, he added, are now questioning whether democracy is a form of governance that can deliver the answers they need on the economy, the environment, and social issues.
Nobody is sure Davos holds the answer to these life-changing questions, nor whether those in attendance all have the same priorities.
But it made for a great discussion.
Watch Brussels, my love? in the video player above.