Wednesday, April 13, 2016

George Soros Writes: "Europe: A Better Plan for Refugees"

From the New York Review of Books:
The asylum policy that emerged from last month’s EU-Turkey negotiations—and that has already resulted in the deportation of hundreds of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey—has four fundamental flaws. First, the policy is not truly European; it was negotiated with Turkey and imposed on the EU by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Second, it is severely underfunded. Third, it is not voluntary. It imposes quotas that many member states oppose and requires refugees to take up residence in countries where they don’t want to live, while forcing others who have reached Europe to be sent back. Finally, it transforms Greece into a de facto holding pen without sufficient facilities for the number of asylum seekers already there.
All these deficiencies can be corrected. The European Commission implicitly acknowledged some of them this week when it announced a new plan to reform Europe’s asylum system. But the Commission’s proposals still rely on compulsory quotas that serve neither refugees nor member states. That will never work. European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans is inviting an open debate. Here is my contribution. 
A humanitarian catastrophe is in the making in Greece. The asylum seekers are desperate. Legitimate refugees must be offered a reasonable chance to reach their destinations in Europe. It is clear that the EU must undergo a paradigm shift. 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. Spending a large amount at the outset would allow the EU to respond more effectively to some of the most dangerous consequences of the refugee crisis—including anti-immigrant sentiment in its member states that has fueled support for authoritarian political parties, and despondency among those seeking refuge in Europe who now find themselves marginalized in Middle East host countries or stuck in transit in Greece.
Most of the building blocks for an effective asylum system are available; they only need to be assembled into a comprehensive and coherent policy. Critically, refugees and the countries that contain them in the Middle East must receive enough financial support to make their lives there viable, allowing them to work and to send their children to school. That would help to keep the inflow of refugees to a level that Europe can absorb. This can be accomplished by establishing a firm and reliable target for the number of refugee arrivals: between 300,000 and 500,000 per year. This number is large enough to give refugees the assurance that many of them can eventually seek refuge in Europe, yet small enough to be accommodated by European governments even in the current unfavorable political climate.
There are established techniques for the voluntary balancing of supply and demand in other fields, such as with matching students to schools and junior doctors to hospitals. In this case, people determined to go to a particular destination would have to wait longer than those who accept the destination allotted to them. The asylum seekers could then be required to await their turn where they are currently located. This would be much cheaper and less painful than the current chaos, in which the migrants are the main victims. Those who jump the line would lose their place and have to start all over again. This should be sufficient inducement to obey the rules.
At least €30 billion ($34 billion) a year will be needed for the EU to carry out such a comprehensive plan. This includes providing Turkey and other “frontline” countries with adequate funding to maintain their very large refugee populations, creating a common EU asylum agency and security force for the EU’s external borders, addressing the humanitarian chaos in Greece, and establishing common standards across the Union for receiving and integrating refugees.
Thirty billion euros might sound like an enormous sum, but it is not when viewed in proper perspective. First, we must recognize that a failure to provide the necessary funds would cost the EU even more. 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 Bertelsmann Foundation has estimated that abandoning Schengen would cost the EU between €47 billion ($53.5 million) and €140 billion ($160 million) in lost GDP each year; the French Commissioner for Policy Planning has estimated the losses at €100 billion ($114 billion) annually.
Moreover, there is no doubt that Europe has the financial and economic capacity to raise €30 billion a year. This amount is less than one-quarter of one percent of the EU’s combined annual GDP of €14.9 trillion, and less than one-half of one percent of total spending by its twenty-eight member governments....MUCH MORE
Jan. 23, 2016
Soros: ‘The EU Is on the Verge of Collapse’—An Interview (plus George's stock tips for the current market)

 If gentle reader is interested, here's another interview Mr. Soros did with Gregor Schmitz in 2014:
"The Future of Europe: An Interview with George Soros"