- Billionaire George Soros has outlined a three-point plan to save Europe.
- The Hungarian-born philanthropist has claimed the European Union is in an "existential crisis".
- Soros has identified the refugee crisis, Brexit, and the impact of austerity as pressing issues.
The Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros has offered a three-point plan in order to preserve the status of the European Union.
Europe's alliance has been under strain as bigger more powerful countries demand that those with struggling economies rein in their spending to reduce debt. This enforced austerity has led to high unemployment in countries such as Greece and Italy. Added to the mix was a migration spike from the Middle East and Africa into many countries that were already struggling in the wake of the financial crisis.
Speaking at the European Council on Foreign Relations annual council meeting Tuesday, Soros said Europe was in "an existential crisis."
In a speech titled "How to Save Europe," Soros claimed that the bloc's pressing issues can be broken down into the refugee crisis, territorial breakups such as Brexit, and economic struggles brought on by austerity.
The philanthropist said the best place for Europe to begin would be to address the refugee crisis and to remove regulation which dictates the number of refugees that each country should accept.
"Member states should not be forced to accept refugees they don't want and refugees should not be forced to settle in countries where they don't want to go," Soros said.
Soros wants the EU to protect its external borders but keep them open for lawful migrants. He argued that the idea of a "fortress Europe" was unrealistic.
He sketched out a plan to fund better education and unemployment in Africa at a cost of 30 billion euros ($34.7 billion) a year. He claimed this would stem those seeking refuge. Soros said the crisis is a European Union one and the financing could be arranged through the EU's "largely unused" borrowing capacity.
Borrowing to fund potential solutions to the migrant crisis leads Soros to address the austerity ethos which he described as a "prevailing addiction" among policymakers.
The billionaire investor said geopolitical tensions and the weakening of ties with Washington meant that Europe may be headed toward another economic slowdown. He said a heavy investment in Africa could help mitigate any fresh economic woes and claimed some financial wizardry might reduce debt fears from lenders.
"I want to point out that the proposal contains an ingenious device that would enable the European Union to borrow from the market at a very advantageous rate without incurring a direct obligation for itself or for its member states," he said, according to a transcript of the speech.
The last issue is "territorial disintegration" which Soros focused on primarily by using the example of Brexit.
Describing Britain's exit from the European Union as "immensely damaging" and "harmful to both sides," Soros said Brussels must rebrand the EU as an association that countries want to join.
He claimed this could be achieved by accepting that the euro as a currency has many unresolved problems and that the two-tier status of euro zone and non-euro zone countries should end.
Soros said the idea of a "multi-speed Europe" where all countries are moving to further integration should be abandoned and replaced with the idea of a "multi-track Europe" where member states have more choice over their political and economic direction.