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Last month, from 10 to 12 April, the city of Brussels played host to an inspiring event: the Consumer Leadership Academy (CLA), organized by the Consumer Empowerment Project, led by Euroconsumers and Google, this time in partnership with the Brussels Privacy Hub at VUB. Participants, selected through a highly competitive process, explored how to empower consumers in the age of AI.

From the get-go, it was evident that the CLA was more than just a run-of-the-mill training program. Participants found themselves immersed in a whirlwind of activities designed to foster a sense of belonging and empowerment.

Day 1: The agenda kicked off with a bang, focusing on “Digital Consumer Protection: An Overview in Light of the Latest Regulations.” After the introduction of Marco Scialdone (Euroconsumers) and Vincenzo Tiani (VUB – Brussels Privacy Hub), the first keynote speech was delivered by a notable guest such as Roberto Viola, Director General, DG CNECT. Other lectures were delivered by Gabriele Mazzini (Team Leader AI Act, DG CNECT), Rachele Carli (University of Bologna), and Piercosma Bisconti Lucidi (European standard AI Trustworthiness Framework).

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the day concluded on a high note with a lavish dinner at the iconic Atomium.

Day 2: Participants immersed themselves in vital discussions led by experts. Lex Zard delved into algorithmic transparency, while at the European Data Protection Supervisor, Alfredo Salmaso, Vitor Bernardo and Leonardo Cervera-Navas (Secretary General at EDPS) discussed the interaction between data protection and AI.

Meanwhile, at the European Parliament, Brando Benifei and Dr. Laura Caroli explored the work made by the European parliament on the AI act , and Paolo Sangregorio and Anita Williams (Google) addressed online abuse prevention.

The day ended with vibrant exchanges at the Vesterbar, fostering lasting connections among attendees.

Day 3: With the finish line in sight, participants gathered one last time to tackle the pressing issue of disinformation. Experts like Krisztina Stump (Head of the Media Convergence and Social Media Unit, DG CNECT) and Anita Williams (Trust & Safety Regulatory Engagements), led discussions on disinformation ahead of the 2024 European elections.

Finally, the participants received their certificates of participation before departing from Brussels.