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George Soros: Why Brexit could lead to a 'stronger and better Europe'

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George Soros has softened his tone on the Brexit fallout.

In a Project Syndicate op-ed Friday, the billionaire investor wrote that Britain's break from the European Union could "build momentum for a stronger and better Europe" despite the immediate financial drawbacks.

That op-ed takes a more optimistic tone than another opinion piece he penned before the vote, which said that a departure from the political and economic bloc would leave "most voters considerably poorer."

Late last month, the U.K. voted to leave the EU, shocking global financial markets and sending the pound into a tailspin. The timing of its departure and future relationship with Europe still need to be decided.

In the Friday op-ed, Soros wrote that the financial mayhem following the referendum "highlighted for people in Britain just what they stand to lose by leaving the EU." If more countries mobilize, like the British voters who asked for another referendum, grassroots participation could help reverse recent trends toward disintegration of Europe, he argued.

Soros said "disaffected voters" in countries like France, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Poland could see the U.K.'s departure as a chance to lobby for EU reform. Britain and some other European countries have decried what they see as lack of control over internal affairs like taxation and immigration.

"What the EU must not do is penalize British voters while ignoring their legitimate concerns about the deficiencies of the Union. European leaders should recognize their own mistakes and acknowledge the democratic deficit in the current institutional arrangements," Soros wrote.

He called on the EU to adopt "exceptional measures":

  1. A "clear distinction must be drawn" between membership in the EU and eurozone, or the single currency, Soros contended. Countries that are not eurozone members "should not face discrimination," he said.
  2. Soros argued "the EU should put its excellent and largely untapped credit to use."
  3. He said the EU "must strengthen its defense to protect itself from external enemies." Ukraine, he said, defends the EU by defending itself.
  4. Soros contended the EU's "woefully underfunded" refugee policies also need to be revised.