The decision means the charitable network will move away from work related to internal European affairs and focus on the region in the context of larger global issues, according to the email sent to employees.

"Ultimately, the new approved strategic direction provides for withdrawal and termination of large parts of our current work within the European Union, shifting our focus and allocation of resources to other parts of the world," the email said. 

"This shift is not a reflection on past work and the many contributions by staff over the years, but rather a forward-looking decision rooted in future opportunities to make a significant impact."

The foundation announced in June that 93-year-old financier Soros would hand over his $25 billion grant-making foundation to his son Alex and in July unveiled plans to lay off 40% of its global staff in a strategic shift.

The internal email did not detail how the foundation would shift its funding but a spokesperson said the group would continue to back civil society groups across Europe, including those working on EU external affairs while maintaining support for European Roma communities.

"The Open Society Foundations is changing the way we work, but my family and OSF have long supported, and remain steadfastly committed to the European project," Alex Soros, chairman of the Open Society Foundations, said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

George Soros, a Hungarian Jew who emigrated after World War Two, made his fortune in the United States and has long supported groups promoting liberal, democratic and open-border values in Eastern Europe. He famously made more than $1 billion on a 1992 bet against the British pound.

The organization, which directs an estimated $1.5 billon a year globally, will also continue to fund programs in Europe, including Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, and the Western Balkans through national foundations, the Open Society Foundations spokesperson said.

"The new model will see the majority of our grant making organised around specific opportunities for impact, to be determined over the coming months," the spokesperson added.

"Our work in Europe has always been an evolving whole and these new changes are no exception to that long-term trend."

(Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Ed Osmond)