The European Union is in an “existential crisis” and has to deal with “a multiplicity of accumulated problems” from both inside and outside the region, according to billionaire investor George Soros.
Speaking at the Brussels Economic Forum on Thursday, the Hungarian-born financier struck a downbeat tone on the current state of the EU, warning the institution needs to completely reinvent itself.
‘Externally, the EU is surrounded by hostile powers — Putin’s Russia, Erdogan’s Turkey, Sisi’s Egypt and the America that Trump would like to create but can’t. Internally, the European Union has been governed by outdated treaties ever since the financial crisis of 2008.’ -George Soros
Soros’ comments come just a few days after U.S. President Donald Trump visited Europe, leaving many EU leaders questioning their future relationship with the U.S.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned after the Trump meeting that Europe could no longer depend on the U.S. and that ”Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”
Soros in his Thursday speech also called on Europeans to shape their own future and get actively involved in reviving optimism over the EU.
“If the European Union carries on with business as usual, there is little hope for an improvement. That is why the European Union needs to be radically reinvented,” Soros said.
That requires member states working together to fight the anti-EU sentiment, stand firm against the “hostile powers” and tackle lackluster economic growth, he said. The EU institutions further need to allow the member states to make more of their own choices, abandoning the vision for “an ever closer union,” which is currently an essential part of the main EU treaties, according to Soros.
That also means resisting the temptation of punishing the U.K. for Brexit. Instead, the European institutions should use the next years of negotiations as a catalyst to introduce far-reaching reforms and update the treaties, the billionaire suggested.
“The European Union could transform itself into an organization that other countries like Britain would want to join. If that happened, the two sides may want to be reunited even before the divorce is completed,” Soros said.