1. How to Save Europe
BSSB.BE ecfr.eu 30.05.2018
Balkans Ex-USSR Germany The Baltics
*Keynote speech at ECFR’s Annual Council Meeting in Paris 29 May. 2018. Check against delivery
It is good to be here. Thank you. I think this is the right place to discuss how to save Europe.
ECFR Keynote: How to save the European Union. Speaker: George Soros.
Posted by ECFR on 29. mai 2018. a.
The European Union is in an existential crisis. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. First I will briefly explain how this happened and then I will explore what can be done to reverse the trend.
In my youth, a small band of visionaries led by Jean Monnet transformed the European Coal and Steel Community into the European Common Market and then the European Union.People of my generation were enthusiastic supporters of the process.
I personally regarded the European Union as the embodiment of the idea of the Open Society. It was a voluntary association of equal states that banded together and sacrificed part of their sovereignty for the common good. The idea of Europe as an open society continues to inspire me.
But since the financial crisis of 2008 theEuropean Union seems to have lost its way. It adopted a program of fiscal retrenchment which led to the euro crisis. This transformed the Eurozone into a relationship between creditors and debtors where the creditors set the conditions that the debtors had to meet. The debtors couldn’t meet those conditions and that created a relationship that is neither voluntary nor equal.
As a result, many young people today regard the European Union as an enemy that has deprived them of jobs and a secure and promising future. Populist politicians exploited the resentments and formed anti-European parties and movements.
ECFR Keynote: How to save the European Union. Speech by Geroge Soros, Founder and Chair of Open Society Foundations.
Then came the refugee crisis of 2015. At first most people sympathized with the plight of refugees fleeing from political repression or civil war, but they didn’t want their everyday lives disrupted by a breakdown of social services. They were also disappointed by the failure of the authorities to cope with the crisis.
When that happened in Germany, the AfD was empowered and it has grown into the largest opposition party. Italy has suffered from a similar experience recently and the political repercussions have been even more disastrous: the anti-European parties almost took over the government. Italy is now facing elections in the midst of political chaos.
Indeed the whole of Europe has been disrupted by the refugee crisis. Unscrupulous leaders have exploited it even in countries that have accepted hardly any refugees. In Hungary, Victor Orban based his reelection campaign on falsely accusing me of planning to flood Europe, Hungary included, with Muslim refugees.
He is now posing as the defender of his version of a Christian Europe that is challenging the values on which the European Union was founded. He is trying to take over the leadership of the Christian Democratic parties, which form the majority in the European Parliament.
In recent weeks not just Europe but the whole world has been shocked by President Trump’s actions. He has unilaterally withdrawn from a nuclear arms treaty with Iran thereby effectively destroying the transatlantic alliance. This development will put additional pressure of unpredictable force on an already beleaguered Europe. It is no longer a figure of speech to say that Europe is in existential danger; it is the harsh reality.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: ecfr.eu