European Positions at Davos: Between Geopolitical Challenges and Economic Prosperity


At Davos 2024, key geopolitical issues were discussed such as artificial intelligence (AI), climate change, the Russia-Ukraine war, the Gaza war, the Red Sea crisis, the US presidential election in 2024 and the fragmentation of the international system. French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented their views on international affairs, focusing on European geopolitical interests and global challenges.

Firstly, President Macron shed light on  French and European actions during the last six years,  considering his country’s main achievements since his last visit to Davos. He underlined the success of the collective defense effort at the European level in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war. He also mentioned Europe’s capability to keep inflation under control, his policy to promote economic growth, and new economic governance at the European level. Six years after his first visit, he also cited the creation of 2 million jobs in France, the process of re-industrialization of the French economy and the fact that France is the most attractive country in Europe for foreign investment. Finally, he said that French production of electric cars would reach 1 million by 2027.

His main focus remains to achieve European sovereignty in the energy field and to confront climate change. On the whole, 2024 will be a decisive year for President Macron and the political project of a more sovereign Europe.  He explained that  the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war highlighted Europe’s  over-dependence on certain regions in the context of critical supply chains and the need to move toward a global economy characterized by “balance, equilibrium and respect.”

At Davos, he expressed his preference for a strategy to reduce the risk of escalation in US-Sino relations. He acknowledged that in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, the question of the cost of energy for Europe had become a decisive factor in the European capability to promote and develop a prosperous Europe. His agenda for 2024 can be summarized in three main ideas: Russia cannot win in Ukraine, according to him, Russia is now dependent on China and Ukraine can prevail in the war against Russia; the year 2024 will be a decisive year for Europeans whatever happens in the US presidential election; and peace and security in the Middle East are key for global economic growth and there is a need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to avoid rising instability in the European neighborhood. Finally, he presented “France 2030” as a future investment plan of 54 billion euros between 2021 and 2026.

Secondly, Prime Minister Sánchez explained his concern for “the very survival of the rules-based international order that has brought us so much prosperity since the end of World War II.” He mentioned the risk of fragmentation of the international system. He highlighted the risks of the Russia-Ukraine war  and defended the idea “of a future Peace Summit that upholds the principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter.” He also referred to the war in Syria, “where a now forgotten war has taken the lives of more than 300,000 souls. 4,000 last year alone.” He underlined that the war in Gaza and the risk of a “humanitarian catastrophe” should reinforce the call and the need  “for an immediate ceasefire and for convening an international conference to implement a definitive solution to this long-lasting conflict. A solution that recognizes the existence of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security.” Beyond the war in Gaza, the Spanish prime minister emphasized that trade and prosperity are at stake as well as the “stability of the entire Middle East. And the continuity of the multilateral order.” This linkage between local and regional crises and the risk of fragmentation of the international system was the main argument of his speech and he  also presented his country’s achievements in terms of economic growth and technological development, especially in the field of AI.  

Thirdly, the Greek prime minister explained the pro-Israeli turn of his country in the 1990s during his father’s rule but he refused to answer a question about the possibility of Donald Trump’s return to the US presidency after the 2024 election.

Finally,  EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explained that “two years ago, before Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, one in five units of energy consumed in  the European Union in 2021 was imported from Russia.” She highlighted how Europeans were able to respond to the Russian strategy to use energy as a political tool to divide European states. The main threat for the year 2024 for von der Leyen is disinformation. Indeed, according to her view, global challenges are exacerbated by disinformation. In this challenging context, she believes that Europe has to be a global leader and a coherent entity able to confront Russia and promote peace and prosperity in the Middle East as well as strong economic growth that is compatible with environmental sustainability. On these three decisive objectives all European leaders agreed at Davos. Europe should remain at the center of the objective of safeguarding the so-called rules-based international order while promoting prosperity and stability in the neighborhood of the European Union.

Editorial Team