EU Chief Says Donald Trump’s Presidency May Have ‘Permanently Damaged Democracy’
Donald Trump’s time as president may have ‘permanently damaged democracy’, an EU chief has warned.
Trump’s legacy as the 45th POTUS is likely to be defined by his final months, with baseless legal battles to overturn the election and his supporters taking part in a violent siege of the US Capitol.
While his time in office is over, he’s still facing criticism – and a trial for impeachment – from other world leaders, including European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen who’s spoken about the potentially grave consequences of his presidency.
While Trump’s US tariffs on goods had long been a point of concern, the discussion has pivoted to his impact on democracy and whether lawmakers and citizens should be concerned over the ramifications of his term in power.
While speaking at the Davos Agenda summit, as per The Independent, von der Leyen said: ‘A year ago, my bilateral talks revolved primarily around the question: Would the US government impose punitive tariffs on European carmakers? Today, a year later, we are worrying about whether democracy itself might have been permanently damaged in the last four years.’
She also took aim at the ‘immense power of the big digital companies’, saying how restrictions should be enforced which protect people from the ‘corrosive power of hate speech, disinformation, fake news and incitement to violence’.
As reported by CNBC, von der Leyen said: ‘We must also address the darker sides of the digital world. Like for so many of us, the storming of the Capitol came as a shock to me. We are always quick to say: Democracy and values, they are part of our DNA. And that is true. But we must nurture our democracy every day.’
She added: ‘We want the platforms to be transparent about how their algorithms work because we cannot accept that decisions that have a far-reaching impact on our democracy are taken by computer programmes alone.’
Von der Leyen then criticised Twitter’s move to issue a lifetime ban to Trump soon after the riots, saying this sort of ‘interference with freedom of expression’ shouldn’t be at the behest of social media companies.
The EU recently set out harsh fines over firms failing to take down illegal content, but also engaging in anticompetitive behavior. The legislation, which could be in force in the next two years, could see them forced to reveal their algorithms.
She said: ‘We want it clearly laid down that internet companies take responsibility for the manner in which they disseminate, promote and remove content.’
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