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Billionaire financier George Soros has detailed a seven-point plan to alleviate Europe's refugee crisis which he believes could help the continent avoid a catastrophe.
"If significant progress could be made on the refugee issue, it would make the other issues — from the continuing Greek debt crisis to the fallout from Brexit to the challenge posed by Russia — easier to tackle, " he said in an opinion piece on Tuesday for the Foreign Policy publication.
"All the pieces need to fit together, and the chances of success remain slim. But as long as there is a strategy that might succeed, all the people who want the European Union to survive should rally behind it."
In 2015, over 1 million migrants and asylum seekers reached the EU via the Mediterranean, according to advocacy group Human Rights Watch. Soros argues that the EU's current stance is not fit for purpose and points out that an influx of refugees and economic migrants to Germany last year has stoked anti-immigration sentiment. He said that this current approach of individual countries applying piecemeal solutions is failing and has suggested seven goals for Europe's policymakers.
Firstly, he believes that the EU should make a commitment to admit at least 300,000 refugees each year from front-line countries. He also believes that the EU should regain control of its borders - avoiding shambolic scenes witnessed on global TV networks - and provide Greece and Italy with sufficient funds to care for asylum seekers.
Thirdly, he believes that the EU should loosen its purse strings and relax budgetary rules. He sees at least 30 billion euros ($33 billion) a year as being needed for the EU to carry out a comprehensive asylum plan.
"These funds are needed both inside the union — to build effective border and asylum agencies and ensure dignified reception conditions, fair asylum procedures, and opportunities for integration — as well as outside its borders — to support refugee-hosting countries and spur job creation throughout Africa and the Middle East," he states in the article.
He also suggests that the refugee crisis must be used to build common European mechanisms for "protecting borders, determining asylum claims, and relocating refugees." Once these refugees have been recognized, he says that there needs to be a mechanism for relocating them within Europe in an agreed way.
His sixth recommendation is that the European Union, along with the international community, must support foreign refugee-hosting countries far more generously than it currently does. His last proposal is that, given its aging population, Europe must eventually create an environment in which economic migrants are welcome.
"The benefits brought by migration far outweigh the costs of integrating immigrants. Skilled economic immigrants improve productivity, generate growth, and raise the absorptive capacity of the recipient country," he said.
Soros underlines that the very existence of the European Union is currently at stake, adding that it would be the "height of irresponsibility and a dereliction of duty" to allow the EU to disintegrate without utilizing all its financial resources.
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