How to Connect the Dots in Davos

22 January 2020
News Article
Press Release/News
By Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle

The most dangerous phrase in business is “we've always done it this way.” Creative thinkers in the past have always changed the world with their fresh and innovative thoughts. People like Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein connected experiences and observations and created a new world view. In its core, creativity is all about connecting things in a new way. 

And yes, the times they are changing and technology has always changed our lives. Think of the invention of the printing press, the light bulb, the automobile or the mobile phone. However, in the 21st century, technology is transforming almost every aspect of our lives at an unprecedented pace and scale, creating new challenges. The annual meeting in Davos is engaging world leaders to find creative solutions to these global challenges. 

I am attending Davos for the second year and many of the challenges facing law enforcement are reflected in the Davos agenda. Being here is the perfect opportunity to speak to business leaders on behalf of the law enforcement community to find solutions. On my agenda are three areas, for which I see a need for innovative and cross-disciplinary thinking:

  1. Environmental concerns are at the top of the list of global concerns. The more we regulate to protect the environment, the more criminals will seek to exploit black markets for profit. The role of law enforcement will be increasingly vital to uphold new and existing laws to protect the environment; not least the ambitious measures of the EU’s ‘Green Deal’ announced recently by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Currently, Europol supports 400 environmental cases of serious and organised international crime.
  2. Cybercrime is an area where public-private cooperation with the business world is essential to Europol’s work. Most of the internet infrastructure is privately owned and too often, the inability to directly receive personal data from private parties is at the core of a number of issues for law enforcement. On the other hand, cybersecurity practitioners have led the way in developing close cooperation, with tech companies lending their expertise to help law enforcement prevent and investigate crime online. 
  3. The role of the private sector is also obvious in financial crime because financial institutions have to protect themselves from abuse by money launderers and various kinds of fraud. Unlike the cybercrime field, anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism are heavily regulated. Law enforcement and banks are keen to re-focus on the core purpose, which is to catch criminals and terrorists and stop their money flows. At Europol, we will launch the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) to pay greater attention to financial and economic crime and criminal asset seizures, making sure crime doesn’t pay. 

The common theme in all of these topics is the need for diverse actors to work together, to connect their expertise and to find creative solutions. This means working across sectors and working across borders – the specialities of the World Economic Forum and Europol. For me, Davos is all about finding innovative, new ways to tackle global threats. By the end of the week, we will have fresh input, feeding our ambition to continue making Europe and the world safer.