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Multiple crises challenge European Union before summit

If the European Union were a patient, its survival would be seen as threatened by multiple organ failure.

That's the view of many experts as EU leaders prepare for a Brussels summit that starts Thursday. Analysts believe the combined strain of challenges including a refugee crisis, threats facing the euro currency and Britain's plan to hold a referendum on whether to leave the EU may be unbearable for the 28-nation bloc.

Just 20 years ago, the EU seemed to be growing in stature as it proudly offered freedom and democracy — along with lucrative subsidies, military alliances and billions in foreign investment — to newly freed former Soviet satellites.