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The Costs of Merkel’s Surrender to Hungarian and Polish Extortion

December 10, 2020

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been laboring under enormous pressure to prevent a veto of the European Union’s 2021-27 budget and COVID-19 recovery fund. But the compromise she reached with Hungary and Poland is the worst of all possible worlds.

NEW YORK – The European Union is facing an existential threat, and yet the EU’s leadership is responding with a compromise that appears to reflect a belief that the threat can simply be wished away. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s kleptocratic regime in Hungary and, to a lesser extent, the illiberal Law and Justice (PiS) government in Poland, are brazenly challenging the values on which the European Union has been built. Treating their challenge as a legitimate political stance

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An Effective Response to Europe’s Fiscal Paralysis

November 30, 2020

With Hungary and Poland vetoing the European Union’s budget and COVID-19 recovery fund, the case for issuing perpetual bonds has never been stronger. While the EU cannot currently do so, given uncertainty about its future, many of its member states can and should.

NEW YORK – I have written a lot in the past about the desirability of the European Union issuing perpetual bonds. But today I am proposing that individual member states should do so.

How Inequality Reduces Growth

PS OnPoint

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Designing Vaccines for People, Not Profits

Smart Development

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Europe Must Stand Up to Hungary and Poland

November 18, 2020

The European Union cannot afford to compromise on the rule-of-law provisions it applies to the funds it allocates to member states. How the EU responds to the challenge to those provisions now posed by Hungary and Poland will determine whether it survives as an open society true to the values upon which it was founded.

NEW YORK – Hungary and Poland have vetoed the European Union’s proposed €1.15 trillion ($1.4 trillion) seven-year budget and the €750 billion European recovery fund. Although the two countries are the budget’s biggest beneficiaries, their governments are adamantly opposed to the rule-of-law conditionality that the EU has adopted at the behest of the European Parliament. They know that they are

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Spain Is Leading the Way on Perpetual Bonds

April 22, 2020

When the European Council’s virtual summit convenes on April 23 to address how the European Union should cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, it should consider the Spanish government’s submission carefully. Indeed, it should be the first item on the meeting’s agenda.

NEW YORK – The European Council is holding a virtual summit on April 23 to consider how the European Union should cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain’s submission is by far the most thoroughly considered and innovative proposal that will be presented. It should be the first item on the meeting agenda.

The EU Should Issue Perpetual Bonds

Thierry

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The EU Should Issue Perpetual Bonds

April 20, 2020

The disruption in the European Union caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should be temporary, but only if EU leaders take the extraordinary measures needed to avoid long-term damage. Fortunately, there is an easy, fast and low-cost way to finance the proposed €1 trillion European Recovery Fund.

NEW YORK – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced that Europe will need about €1 trillion ($1.1 trillion) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This money could be used to establish a European Recovery Fund. But where will the money come from?

The EU Should Issue Perpetual Bonds

Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

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Europe Must Recognize China for What It Is

February 11, 2020

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet the heads of state and government of the 27 EU member states at the EU-China summit in Leipzig in September. Europeans need to understand that they will hand him a much-needed political victory unless he is held accountable for his failure to uphold human rights, particularly in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong.

MUNICH – Neither the European public nor European political and business leaders fully understand the threat presented by Xi Jinping’s China. Although Xi is a dictator who is using cutting-edge technology in an effort to impose total control on Chinese society, Europeans regard China primarily as an important business partner. They fail to appreciate that since Xi became president and

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How a Democratic Counteroffensive Can Win

January 23, 2020

With authoritarian nationalism continuing to gain ground around the world, it would be easy to give in to despair. But there are also grounds to hope for the survival of open societies, which are, despite appearances, far stronger and more stable than repressive regimes.

DAVOS – We’re living at a transformational moment in history. The survival of open societies is endangered, and we face an even greater crisis: climate change, which threatens the survival of our civilization. These twin challenges have inspired me to announce the most important project of my life.As I argue in my recent book, In Defense of Open Society, in revolutionary moments, the range of possibilities is far wider than in normal times. It is easier to

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The Rise of Nationalism After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

November 8, 2019

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, open societies were triumphant and international cooperation became the dominant creed. Thirty years later, however, nationalism has turned out to be much more powerful and disruptive than internationalism.

BERLIN – The fall of the Berlin Wall on the night of November 8, 1989 dramatically and suddenly accelerated the collapse of communism in Europe. The end of travel restrictions between East and West Germany dealt a death blow to the closed society of the Soviet Union. By the same token, it marked a high point for the rise of open societies.
The End of Neoliberalism and the Rebirth of History

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Europe’s Silent Majority Speaks Out

June 7, 2019

What voters said in last month’s European Parliament election is that they want to preserve the values on which the European Union was founded. But can Europe’s leaders carry out the radical institutional reforms that voters also want?

LONDON – Last month’s elections to the European Parliament produced better results than one could have expected, and for a simple reason: the silent pro-European majority has spoken. What they said is that they want to preserve the values on which the European Union was founded, but that they also want radical changes in the way the EU functions. Their main concern is climate change.
Europe’s Silent Majority Speaks Out

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Europe, Please Wake Up

February 11, 2019

The first step to defending Europe from its enemies, both internal and external, is to recognize the magnitude of the threat they present. The second is to awaken the sleeping pro-European majority and mobilize it to defend the values on which the EU was founded.

MUNICH – Europe is sleepwalking into oblivion, and the people of Europe need to wake up before it is too late. If they don’t, the European Union will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991. Neither our leaders nor ordinary citizens seem to understand that we are experiencing a revolutionary moment, that the range of possibilities is very broad, and that the eventual outcome is thus highly uncertain.

Photographer is my life/Getty Images

Fred

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The AI Threat to Open Societies

January 24, 2019

George Soros is Chairman of Soros Fund Management and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations. A pioneer of the hedge-fund industry, he is the author of many books, including
The Alchemy of Finance, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means, and The Tragedy of the European Union.

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How to Save Europe

May 29, 2018

George Soros is Chairman of Soros Fund Management and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations. A pioneer of the hedge-fund industry, he is the author of many books, including
The Alchemy of Finance, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means, and The Tragedy of the European Union.

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The Social Media Threat to Society and Security

February 14, 2018

MUNICH – The current moment in world history is a painful one. Open societies are in crisis, and various forms of dictatorships and mafia states, exemplified by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, are on the rise. In the United States, President Donald Trump would like to establish his own mafia-style state but cannot, because the Constitution, other institutions, and a vibrant civil society won’t allow it.

The Year Ahead 2018

The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

Order now

Not only is the survival of open society in question; the survival of our entire civilization is at

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The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

December 8, 2017

The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.
NEW YORK – In October, Hungary’s government mailed questionnaires to all four million of the country’s households asking for peoples’ views on seven statements describing my alleged plan to flood Europe, and Hungary in particular, with Muslim migrants and refugees. The government made seven assertions about what it calls the “Soros Plan.” I rebutted each and every one based on my published statements or the lack of any published

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Brexit In Reverse?

June 19, 2017

LONDON – Economic reality is beginning to catch up with the false hopes of many Britons. One year ago, when a slim majority voted for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, they believed the promises of the popular press, and of the politicians who backed the Leave campaign, that Brexit would not reduce their living standards. Indeed, in the year since, they have managed to maintain those standards by running up household debt.

This worked for a while, because the increase in household consumption stimulated the economy. But the moment of truth for the UK economy is fast approaching. As the latest figures published by the Bank of England show, wage growth in Britain is not keeping up with inflation, so real incomes have begun to fall.

As this trend

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Standing Up for Europe

June 1, 2017

BRUSSELS – Today’s European Union needs both salvation and radical reinvention. Saving the EU must take precedence, because Europe is in existential danger. But, as French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized during his election campaign, reviving the support that the EU used to enjoy is no less essential.

The existential danger the EU faces is partly external. The Union is surrounded by powers that are hostile to what it stands for – Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s Egypt, and the America that Donald Trump would create if he could.

But the threat also comes from within. The EU is governed by treaties that, following the financial crisis of 2008, became largely irrelevant to conditions prevailing in the eurozone. Even the

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Open Society Needs Defending

December 28, 2016

NEW YORK – Well before Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I sent a holiday greeting to my friends that read: “These times are not business as usual. Wishing you the best in a troubled world.” Now I feel the need to share this message with the rest of the world. But before I do, I must tell you who I am and what I stand for. I am an 86-year-old Hungarian Jew who became a US citizen after the end of World War II. I learned at an early age how important it is what kind of political regime prevails. The formative experience of my life was the occupation of Hungary by Hitler’s Germany in 1944. I probably would have perished had my father not understood the gravity of the situation. He arranged false identities for his family and for many other Jews; with his help, most survived.

In 1947, I escaped from Hungary, by then under Communist rule, to England. As a student at the London School of Economics, I came under the influence of the philosopher Karl Popper, and I developed my own philosophy, built on the twin pillars of fallibility and reflexivity. I distinguished between two kinds of political regimes: those in which people elected their leaders, who were then supposed to look after the interests of the electorate, and others where the rulers sought to manipulate their subjects to serve the rulers’ interests.

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On the Bombing of Aleppo

October 11, 2016

NEW YORK – The world is witnessing in Syria a humanitarian catastrophe of historic proportions. It is being perpetrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin in support of his protégé, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russian warplanes are bombing the civilian population of Aleppo, the country’s most populous city, to assist Syrian government forces attempting to take control of rebel-held areas.

The combined assault has, among other things, killed hundreds of people and wounded more than a thousand, put the city’s remaining hospitals out of commission, and deprived the population of drinking water.
Putin is moving aggressively to exploit the three months between now and the January 20 inauguration of the next US president, based on the callous calculus that the United States will be mostly immobilized by the political transition. As The New York Times puts it: “Putin calculates that the departing President Obama will be unlikely to intervene in the escalating Syrian conflict and a new American president who might consider a tougher policy will not yet be in office.” The Times then quotes Russian political scientist Nikolai V. Petrov: “The next American president will face a new reality and will be forced to accept it.

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Saving Refugees to Save Europe

September 12, 2016

NEW YORK – The refugee crisis in Europe was already pushing the European Union toward disintegration when, on June 23, it helped drive the British to vote to Brexit the EU. The refugee crisis and the Brexit calamity that it spawned have reinforced xenophobic, nationalist movements that will seek to win a series of upcoming votes– including national elections in France, the Netherlands, and Germany in 2017, a referendum in Hungary on the EU refugee policy on October 2, and a rerun of the Austrian presidential election on December 4.

Rather than uniting to resist this threat, EU member states have become increasingly unwilling to cooperate with one another. They pursue self-serving, beggar-thy-neighbor migration policies – such as building border fences – that further fragment the Union, seriously damage member states, and subvert global human-rights standards.
The current piecemeal response to the refugee crisis, culminating in the agreement reached earlier this year between the EU and Turkey to stem the flow of refugees from the Eastern Mediterranean, suffers from four fundamental flaws. First, it is not truly European; the agreement with Turkey was negotiated and imposed on Europe by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Second, it is severely underfunded. Third, it has transformed Greece into a de facto holding pen with inadequate facilities.

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The Promise of Regrexit

July 8, 2016

LONDON – Until the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the refugee crisis was the greatest problem Europe faced. Indeed, that crisis played a critical role in bringing about the greater calamity of Brexit.

The vote for Brexit was a great shock; the morning after the vote, the disintegration of the European Union seemed practically inevitable. Brewing crises in other EU countries, especially Italy, deepened the dark forecast for the EU’s survival.
But as the initial shock of the British referendum wears off, something unexpected is happening: the tragedy no longer looks like a fait accompli. Many British voters have started to feel a degree of “buyer’s remorse” as the hypothetical becomes real. Sterling has plunged. Another Scottish referendum has become highly likely. The erstwhile leaders of the “Leave” campaign have engaged in a peculiar bout of internecine self-destruction, and some of their followers have started to glimpse the bleak future that both the country and they personally face. A sign of the shift in public opinion has been a campaign, supported by more than four million people so far, to petition Parliament to hold a second referendum.

Just as Brexit was a negative surprise, the spontaneous response to it is a positive one.

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Brexit and the Future of Europe

June 25, 2016

NEW YORK – Britain, I believe, had the best of all possible deals with the European Union, being a member of the common market without belonging to the euro and having secured a number of other opt-outs from EU rules. And yet that was not enough to stop the United Kingdom’s electorate from voting to leave. Why?

The answer could be seen in opinion polls in the months leading up to the “Brexit” referendum. The European migration crisis and the Brexit debate fed on each other. The “Leave” campaign exploited the deteriorating refugee situation – symbolized by frightening images of thousands of asylum-seekers concentrating in Calais, desperate to enter Britain by any means necessary – to stoke fear of “uncontrolled” immigration from other EU member states. And the European authorities delayed important decisions on refugee policy in order to avoid a negative effect on the British referendum vote, thereby perpetuating scenes of chaos like the one in Calais.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open her country’s doors wide to refugees was an inspiring gesture, but it was not properly thought out, because it ignored the pull factor. A sudden influx of asylum-seekers disrupted people in their everyday lives across the EU.

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Brexit and the Future of Europe

June 25, 2016

NEW YORK – Britain, I believe, had the best of all possible deals with the European Union, being a member of the common market without belonging to the euro and having secured a number of other opt-outs from EU rules. And yet that was not enough to stop the United Kingdom’s electorate from voting to leave. Why?

The answer could be seen in opinion polls in the months leading up to the “Brexit” referendum. The European migration crisis and the Brexit debate fed on each other. The “Leave” campaign exploited the deteriorating refugee situation – symbolized by frightening images of thousands of asylum-seekers concentrating in Calais, desperate to enter Britain by any means necessary – to stoke fear of “uncontrolled” immigration from other EU member states. And the European authorities delayed important decisions on refugee policy in order to avoid a negative effect on the British referendum vote, thereby perpetuating scenes of chaos like the one in Calais.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open her country’s doors wide to refugees was an inspiring gesture, but it was not properly thought out, because it ignored the pull factor. A sudden influx of asylum-seekers disrupted people in their everyday lives across the EU.

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Bringing Europe’s Migration Crisis Under Control

April 10, 2016

LONDON – The asylum policy that emerged from the European Union’s negotiations last month with Turkey became effective on April 4, when 202 asylum-seekers were deported from Greece. The policy has four fundamental flaws.
It was negotiated with Turkey and imposed on the EU by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It is severely under-funded.
It is not voluntary, for it establishes quotas that many member states oppose and requires refugees to take up residence in countries where they don’t want to live.
It transforms Greece into a de facto holding pen with insufficient facilities for the number of asylum-seekers already there.
All of these deficiencies can be corrected. The European Commission implicitly acknowledged some of them on April 6 in a new set of proposals for reforming Europe’s asylum system. But the Commission’s proposals still rely on compulsory quotas. That will never work. Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans is inviting an open debate.
A comprehensive asylum policy for Europe, I believe, should establish a firm and reliable annual target of 300,000-500,000 refugees. This is large enough to give refugees the assurance that they can eventually reach their destination, yet small enough to be accommodated even in today’s unfavorable political climate.

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The Case for Surge Funding

February 17, 2016

MUNICH – Important progress was made at the donors’ conference for Syrian refugees convened in London on February 4. But much more remains to be done. The international community is still vastly underestimating what is needed to support refugees, both inside and outside the borders of the European Union. To deal with the refugee crisis, while putting the EU’s largely unused AAA borrowing capacity to better use, requires a paradigm shift.
Rather than scraping together insufficient funds year after year, it is time to engage in “surge funding.” Spending a large amount of money up front would be far more effective than spending the same amount over several years. Frontloading the spending would allow us to address the most dangerous consequences of the crisis – including anti-immigrant sentiment in receiving countries and despondency and marginalization among refugees – more effectively. Making large initial investments would help tip the economic, political, and social dynamics away from xenophobia and disaffection, and toward constructive outcomes that benefit refugees and the recipient countries alike.

Surge funding has been used often to finance immunization campaigns.

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Putin is No Ally Against ISIS

February 10, 2016

MUNICH – The leaders of the United States and the European Union are making a grievous error in thinking that President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a potential ally in the fight against the Islamic State. The evidence contradicts them. Putin’s current aim is to foster the EU’s disintegration, and the best way to do so is to flood the EU with Syrian refugees.
Russian planes have been bombing the civilian population in southern Syria forcing them to flee to Jordan and Lebanon. There are now 20,000 Syrian refugees camped out in the desert awaiting admission to Jordan. A smaller number are waiting to enter Lebanon. Both groups are growing.

Russia has also launched a large-scale air attack against civilians in northern Syria. This was followed by a ground assault by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army against Aleppo, a city that used to have 2 million inhabitants. The barrel bombs caused 70,000 civilians to flee to Turkey; the ground offensive could uproot many more.
The families on the move may not stop in Turkey. German Chancellor Angela Merkel flew to Ankara on February 9 to make last-minute arrangements with the Turkish government to induce the refugees already in Turkey to prolong their stay there.

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How to Fight Jihadi Terrorism

December 29, 2015

NEW YORK – Open societies are always endangered. This is especially true of America and Europe today, as a result of the terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere, and the way that America and Europe, particularly France, have reacted to them.
Jihadi terrorists, like the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, have discovered the Achilles heel of our Western societies: the fear of death. By stoking that fear through horrific attacks and macabre videos, the publicists of ISIS awaken and magnify it, leading otherwise sensible people in hitherto open societies to abandon their reason.

Brain scientists have discovered that emotion is an essential component of human reasoning. That discovery explains why jihadi terrorism poses such a potent threat to our societies: the fear of death leads us and our leaders to think – and then behave – irrationally.
Brain science merely confirms what experience has long shown: When we are afraid for our lives, emotions take hold of our thoughts and actions, and we find it difficult to make rational judgments. Fear activates an older, more primitive part of the brain than that which formulates and sustains the abstract values and principles of open society.
The open society is thus always at risk from the threat posed by our response to fear.

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Rebuilding the Asylum System

September 26, 2015

NEW YORK – The European Union needs to accept responsibility for the lack of a common asylum policy, which has transformed this year’s growing influx of refugees from a manageable problem into yet another political crisis. Each member state has selfishly focused on its own interests, often acting against the interests of others. This precipitated panic among asylum seekers, the general public, and the authorities responsible for law and order. Asylum seekers have been the main victims.
The EU needs a comprehensive plan to respond to the crisis, one that reasserts effective governance over the flows of asylum-seekers so that they take place in a safe, orderly way, and at a pace that reflects Europe’s capacity to absorb them. To be comprehensive, the plan has to extend beyond the borders of Europe. It is less disruptive and much less expensive to maintain potential asylum-seekers in or close to their present location.

As the origin of the current crisis is Syria, the fate of the Syrian population has to be the first priority. But other asylum seekers and migrants must not be forgotten. Similarly, a European plan must be accompanied by a global response, under the authority of the United Nations and involving its member states.

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