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.
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.
Right now, it would be impossible for the EU to issue perpetual bonds, because the member states are too divided.
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.
George Soros is one of the most iconic financiers of the century. He is the man who in 1992 “broke” the Bank of England, the philanthropist who has given away $32 billion to promote open societies, the political pugilist who has sparred with Donald Trump and Viktor Orban.
In an interview, published today, George Soros has set out how the European Union (EU) can maintain its AAA rating and finance its COVID-19 recovery package.
Through supporting ‘perpetual bonds’ – or ‘Consols’, as they are known in the UK and US – Mr Soros believes the EU can address the dual crises of COVID and climate change, which currently threaten the bloc.
In een vandaag gepubliceerd interview heeft George Soros uiteengezet hoe de Europese Unie (EU) haar AAA-rating kan behouden en haar COVID-19-herstelpakket kan financieren.
Door het steunen van “eeuwigdurende obligaties” – of “Consols”, zoals ze in het Verenigd Koninkrijk en de Verenigde Staten worden genoemd – is de heer Soros van mening dat de EU de dubbele crisis van COVID en de klimaatverandering, die op dit moment een bedreiging vormt voor het blok, kan aanpakken.
George Soros and Gregor Peter Schmitz
GREGOR PETER SCHMITZ: You have seen many crises. Is the COVID-19 pandemic comparable to any previous one?
GEORGE SOROS: No. This is the crisis of my lifetime. Even before the pandemic hit, I realized that we were in a revolutionary moment where what would be impossible or even inconceivable in normal times had become not only possible but probably absolutely necessary.
Within a matter of weeks authorities will have to take decisions that will determine the fate of the European Union. The EU can either pull together and fulfill the expectations and aspirations of its citizens or it will continue to disintegrate.
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.
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?