George Soros, the billionaire financier and supporter of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton
, says the European Union could fall apart if the region doesn’t spend $34 billion a year to handle refugees from war-torn Syria.
“A humanitarian catastrophe is in the making in Greece,” he writes this week in the New York Review of Books
. “EU leaders need to embrace the idea that effectively addressing the crisis will require ‘surge’ funding, rather than scraping together insufficient funds year after year.”
Syria’s civil war has forced almost half of its pre-war population of about 23 million to flee their homes, according to United Nations estimates
. More than 4.8 million people crossed the Syrian border into surrounding countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Another 850,000 have sought asylum in Europe, with 300,000 ending up in Germany, while an estimated 2,000-3,000 migrants arrive in Greece every day.
"We must recognize that a failure to provide the necessary funds would cost the EU even more,” Soros writes. “There is a real threat that the refugee crisis could cause the collapse of Europe’s Schengen system of open internal borders among twenty-six European states.”
The flood of refugees has pushed countries like Hungary to put up barbed wire fences along its southern edge, while France, Germany, Austria and Sweden temporarily reimposed border controls. The resentment against migrants has fueled nativist sentiment and xenophobia throughout Europe.
Soros says Europe should be able to handle 300,000 to 500,000 refugees every year if the region comes up with a comprehensive plan to create a common EU asylum agency and security force, address the crisis in Greece and figure out how to integrate migrants into society.
That plan can be financed through a combination of taxes and debt issuance, according to Soros.
"When should the triple-A credit of the EU be mobilized if not at a moment when it is in mortal danger?" he asks. “Throughout history, governments have issued bonds in response to national emergencies. That is the case in Europe today.”
Soros last week made headlines after a super PAC that supports Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican race ran a political ad linking the Hungary-born financier to Ohio governor John Kasich.
"Millionaires working side by side with George Soros are bankrolling his super PAC," the ad’s narrator says of Kasich, as images of Kasich and Soros appear above the words "Hundreds of thousands of dollars from George Soros."
The Politifact website
said the ad’s claims are false, and donations of $650,000 to the Kasich campaign came from Scott Bessent and Stanley Druckenmiller, who both worked with Soros in managing hedge funds.
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