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

    Comment number 103.

    Is it 1st April?

    There have been some controversial winners of this category over the years but this has to be the most ridiculous award EVER.

    The EU is a disaster for almost all the member states and the ongoing peace in Europe has happened despite, not because of, the EU.

    Peace in Europe has been maintained because of global not local politics.

    Peace will still remain when the EU breaks up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Even if we left the EU there would still be peace, that is why we have Trident.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Nationalism is a false god which burns in the fires of revelation ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    This can only be because the EU is so incompetent that it is unable to get its act together to do anything, except organize receptions and dinners at our expense and siphon off most of the rest of our money into the back pockets of every rogue in Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Fair Enough,The EU has done a Job in placing peace,but they don't win any awards for their economic policies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Not sure whether to give three cheers for the recognition that international co operation promotes peace, or feel that the Nobel committee had run out of ideas and felt they had to give the prize to someone....

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Obviously the panel who decided this weren't shown the pictures of riots and burning in Spain, Greece, and France.

    It's "la la la it's not all falling apart and anyone who says different is a conspiracy theorist!" at it's most hilarious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    You give one to Barack Omama before he did anything and now the EU gets one when there is rioting on the streets, many millions out of work and people across the continent are openly questioning whether the institution has a future.

    Nobel commission you have made yourself a laughing stock.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Well the EU isn't going to get the Nobel Prize for economics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    As a believer in the EU, I'm pleased that this is not the usual right-wing media mud-slinging we've come to expect in GB. We need to join the EU fully. We can then be rescued from this awful government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Well it just shows you the do nothing policy came good.

    What have they actually done?

    What a sham......

  • Comment number 92.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    This really confused me for a few minutes. Had to double check the calendar to make sure I hadn't somehow been teleported to April 1st.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    While it may have "advanced peace" in the past few decades, the EU's Euro project has also caused more unrest in streets across Europe than anything else since the USSR fell. Try asking a Greek, Spanish, Portugese or Italian citizen protesting on the streets what they think, and they'll probably come to the same conclusion as me - at this moment in time, such an accolade is deeply offensive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Good news,but,ah yes,another chance for the EU haters to vent their spleen. But I don't take much notice of them and their rantings these days. They'd blame the EU for a rainy day! To a lot of these right winge-rs their view of 'human rights' is that it is some kind of communist conspiracy anyway. The notion that the EU might actually be a force for good in the world sticks in their craw.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    The EU has done a magnificent job in ensuring peace in Europe.

    Not only as a platform for reconciliation between France and Germany, the EU has provided the economic conditions to ensure shared prosperity.

    As a Scottish person, I wait enthusiastically to when Scotland becomes a full EU member post Scotland's 2014 Freedom referendum!

    Congratulations to the EU on this award!

    C McK

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Why is this up for HYS but the real Nobel prizes weren't?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    The EUs influence in reconciling France and Germany is virtually nil. After WWII both countries emerged as mature democracies which is a much bigger influence on peace, 100,000 American troops may have had something to do with it and the threat from Russia was a strong influence on co-operation

    The EU efforts which allowed Spain and Greece to emerge as proper democracies do deserve recognition

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    The world has officially gone mad. Are they really saying that if Greece and Spain leave the EU Germany will have to invade Poland? Utter madness. Prosperity and increasing living standards have prevented war within Europe. Spain is already on the way to civil war BECAUSE of the EU and its common currency.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.


    I disagree with this, I've read lots of history, and I have plenty of good to say about many aspects of the EU. What do you say to that?
    I'm sure you'll simply find some other way to dismiss any views contrary to your own without engaging in reasoned discussion. Exactly like many of those in the EU you are praising!

    #67 so what about the EU troops in Afghanistan then?


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