Nobel Peace Prize awarded to European Union

 

Jose Manuel Barroso: "The European Union is probably the most important ever project for peace"

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The European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for six decades of work in advancing peace in Europe.

The committee said the EU had helped to transform Europe "from a continent of war to a continent of peace".

The award comes as the EU faces the biggest crisis of its history, with recession and social unrest rocking many of its member states.

The last organisation to be given the prize outright was Medecins Sans Frontieres, which won in 1999.

Announcing the award, Nobel committee president Thorbjoern Jagland acknowledged the EU's current financial problems and social unrest.

But he said the committee wanted to concentrate on the EU's work over six decades of advancing "peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights".

'Biggest peacemaker'

Start Quote

We must never forget that in order to keep this peace, democracy and freedom, we have to work hard over and over again”

End Quote Angela Merkel

Mr Jagland highlighted the EU's work in sealing the reconciliation between France and Germany in the decades after World War II and praised the organisation for incorporating Spain, Portugal and Greece after their authoritarian regimes collapsed in the 1970s.

The EU's reconciliation work had now moved to Balkan countries, he said, pointing out that Croatia is on the verge of membership.

And he added that the possibility of EU membership for Turkey had also "advanced democracy and human rights in that country".

Senior EU figures were overjoyed with the award.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called it a "great honour", while European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said it was recognition for the work of "the biggest peacemaker in history".

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Barroso said that in awarding the prize to the EU, the Nobel Committee was saying that the European project should be cherished, both within and beyond Europe.

"I believe it is justified for the European Union to see its work for peace recognised, not only in the unification of the continent, but also outside our Europe," he said.

"This started after the war - putting together former enemies. It started with six countries and we are now 27, another one is going to join us next year and more want to come. So the EU is the most important project for peace in terms of transnational, supernational co-operation."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she regarded the Nobel as a "personal incentive" to build on six decades of peace in Europe.

Start Quote

Europe's leaders fell upon this rare piece of good news with an almost desperate embrace. If there is a core justification for the European project, it is to make war impossible again on the continent. That has been the EU's outstanding achievement”

End Quote

"We must never forget that in order to keep this peace, democracy and freedom, we have to work hard over and over again," she said.

French President Francois Hollande said the EU needed to show it was "worthy" of the award. "We are honoured, we are proud and at the same time we have our responsibilities before us," he told journalists during a visit to Senegal.

The BBC's Europe correspondent Matthew Price says the EU's achievements are clear, but the committee has picked a strange time to highlight them.

The eurozone crisis has made the EU look more divided and fragile than it has for decades, he says.

EU 'like Yugoslavia'

Alongside the chorus of praise, several eurosceptic politicians were quick to deride the award.

Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) likened the EU project to the former Yugoslavia.

"Rather than bring peace and harmony, the EU will cause insurgency and violence," he said.

Dutch eurosceptic Geert Wilders questioned the timing of the award.

Thorbjoern Jagland, Norwegian Nobel Committee: "Since 1945 reconciliation has become a reality"

"A Nobel prize for the EU at a time Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next? An Oscar for Van Rompuy," he said.

The Nobel committee has rarely shied away from controversy with its choice of winner.

US President Barack Obama won the award in 2009 despite leading a country that was fighting two separate wars.

And the choice of detained Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010 enraged China, which made an official complaint to Norway.

This year's Nobel Prize for literature winner, Chinese writer Mo Yan, said on Friday he hoped Mr Liu would be freed as soon as possible.

Maps showing growth of the European Union The Inner Six create the European Coal and Steel Community, meant to tie the countries together and make war between them "materially impossible"
Maps showing growth of the European Union The European Community, as it is by now known, has the goal of a common market in goods, capital and labour; the UK joins, but Norway votes not to
Maps showing growth of the European Union Greece, Spain and Portugal, after only emerging from dictatorship in the previous decade, are admitted to the club
Maps showing growth of the European Union The 1991 Maastricht Treaty sets the bloc en route to the single currency and renames it the European Union
Maps showing growth of the European Union The biggest expansion of the bloc sees 12 new entrants, including many former communist countries
 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 83.

    Ridiculous decision.

    Cheapens the Nobel prize further (after giving it to Obama with zero jusification).

    Almost not worth winning it now frankly...

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 82.

    What stopped another war in Europe?

    Mutually...Assured...Destruction...backed up by millions of Americans on one side, millions of Russians on the other. The flamin' EU ( didn't exist before Maastricht 93, amended Lisbon 2009) had nothing to bloody do with it. And if anything is going to cause another war, it'll be that EU disaster we call the euro.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 81.

    Interesting! I wonder which EU institution will benefit from the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or will it be awarded in Euros?) prize money. Or will they spend millions more on the (of course peaceful) decision-making process regarding its distribution?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 80.

    I was hoping to see Vasili Arkhipov who, during the Cuban Missile crisis went against authority and refused to start World War III get the nobel peace prize. He deserved it more than anybody or any organisation.

    Heaven forbid they ever give it to Tony Blair!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 79.

    The Daily Mail will not be happy.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 78.

    I'm sure Angela Merkel appreciated all those peace loving Greeks this week..............

    The EU allowed war in the Bakans 15 years ago......

    NATO is the peacekeeper...........

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 77.

    39.Euro Sceptic
    all the billions that we contribute is money well spent. EU - Entirely Useless!!

    So, you would rather we let Europe carry on as before eh? You are in favour of the inevitable war based on spheres of influence? Talk about turkeys voting for christmas!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 76.

    Crumbs, this will bring out the Euroloonies.

    Suspect Bill Cash spluttered his cornflakes all over the breakfast table on hearing this news.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 75.

    This prize needs to be de-politicised. It should go to individuals or NGOs - not states, regional bodies, political leaders or civil servants - who have done what they can for peace in difficult situations. My vote would go to someone like Rupika De Silva of Sri Lanka - an individual who, by sheer persistence, fostered peace between people.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 74.

    Nice one - so this time Germany have taken over Europe AND gained a peace prize for it. Is that just saying their approach was more peaceable than last time do you think?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 73.

    Maybe next year physics will win it.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 72.

    Barf! It's just the canap├ęs swilling luvvies on the Nobel Committee smooching up to their chattering class pals that trough on the all expenses junket known as the EU. They could have instead given it to individuals who regularly risk life and limb for peacefully attempting achieve what they believe in.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 71.

    You gotta give it to the Norwegians for their sense of humour.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 70.

    Peace? hardly!
    Democracy? Anything but? Anyone had a chance to vote for Federalism or not?
    Human Rights? Actually the death of democracy is pretty anti Human Rights isnt it?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 69.

    No, the real peace in Europe has been maintained by the supervision of the major superpowers (USA, Russia etc), all of whom have had nuclear weapons for the duration of the EU's existance.
    Close down the EU now.

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 68.

    Bursting with Pride! The EU represents an ideal: that together we are greater than divided; that difference is not about opposition but complementarity; that negotiating is better than fighting.
    Congratulations to all the peoples who make up this peaceful Union!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 67.

    The British imperialists and jingoists here should not that this is a prize awarded by one of the few European countries not to be a member of the EU. In its history the EU has not been the cause of a single war, while Britain's much vaunted independence and the Atlantic alliance have sent our troops into Iraq, Afghanistan and maybe yet Iran, none of it to any point. Well deserved.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 66.

    There are an awful lot of things wrong with the EU, however, it is the price we have to pay for not killing each other for the last 60 years. A price worth paying IMO.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 65.

    The BBC was trying so hard for Liu to win a second but nothing.

    And Obama not even a mention, so what they do they gone and gave it to a non human, the EMU.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 64.

    Say what you like about the EU, but I don't think anyone can doubt the successful role it's played in striving for world peace and working towards a united Europe.

    Although I wan't expecting this, I think it's a worthy tribute.

    Long may the EU continue!

 

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