The European Union is in "existential danger" and must go through a radical reinvention process in order to save itself, U.S. billionaire philanthropist George Soros has told an economic forum in Brussels.
Soros said on June 1 that a combination of external and internal threats have brought the 28-member bloc to a "tipping point" between further integration or disintegration.
"Externally, the EU is surrounded by hostile powers -- [President Vladimir] Putin's Russia, [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's Turkey, [President Abdel Fattah el]-Sisi's Egypt and the America that [U.S. President Donald] Trump would like to create but can't," Soros told the EU Brussels Economic Forum.
At the same time, Soros said, the EU has been governed internally by "outdated treaties ever since the financial crisis of 2008," which have lost relevance.
The bloc is clogged by institutions whose functioning has become "increasingly complicated and eventually rendered the EU dysfunctional in some ways," Soros said, singling out the eurozone single-currency area, which he said has become the "exact opposite" of what it was originally meant to be.
Soros said Britain's exit from the EU could take as long as five years, and that Brexit could be used by Brussels as a "catalyst for introducing far-reaching reforms."
Soros warned that the bloc should abandon the "multispeed" approach toward further integration proposed by some EU leaders and aim for a "multitrack" Europe that allowed members to pursue a wider variety of choices. He did not elaborate on those choices.
The European Union needs new rules to maintain its values, and that objective could be achieved only through resolute action by its members and the "active engagement of civil society," Soros said.
The Hungarian-born financier has been actively involved in supporting the development of civil society in former communist countries in Eastern Europe and is the founder of the Central European University in Budapest, which is currently threatened with closure by nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government.