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George Soros’ plan to fix Europe’s refugee crisis

25 July 20160 comments

Billionaire businessman George Soros has outlined a detailed seven-point plan to mitigate Europe’s refugee crisis, saying he believes it 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,” Mr Soros said.

He detailed his plan in an opinion piece in Foreign Policy Magazine titled ‘This is Europe’s Last Chance to Fix Its Refugee Policy’.

George Soros

George Soros

In 2015, more than a million migrants and asylum seekers entered Europe via the Mediterranean and the Balkans – many of them fleeing conflict in Syria or Africa.

“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,” Mr Soros wrote.

Mr 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.

“Rather than uniting to resist this threat, EU member states have become increasingly unwilling to cooperate with one another,” Mr Soros wrote.

“They pursue self-serving, discordant migration policies, often to the detriment of their neighbors. In these circumstances, a comprehensive and coherent European asylum policy is not possible in the short term, despite the efforts of the EU’s governing body, the European Commission.

“The trust needed for cooperation is lacking. It will have to be rebuilt through a long and laborious process.”

Firstly, Mr Soros 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 $EU30 billion ($US33 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,” Mr Soros wrote.

He also suggested 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 recognised, he says that there needs to be a mechanism for relocating them within Europe in an agreed way.

His sixth recommendation was that the European Union, along with the international community, must support foreign refugee-hosting countries far more generously than it currently does.

His seventh and last proposal is that, given its ageing 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.

Mr Soros said 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 utilising all its financial resources.

“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 wrote.

“Different populations bring different skills, but the contributions come as much from the innovations they introduce as from their specific skills — in both their countries of origin and their countries of destination.

“There is plenty of anecdotal evidence for this, starting with the Huguenots’ contribution to the first industrial revolution by bringing both weaving and banking to England. All the evidence supports the conclusion that migrants have a high potential to contribute to innovation and development if they are given a chance to do so.

“Pursuing these seven principles is essential in order to calm public fears, reduce chaotic flows of asylum-seekers, ensure that newcomers are fully integrated, establish mutually beneficial relations with countries in the Middle East and Africa, and meet Europe’s international humanitarian obligations,” Mr Soros wrote.