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 123.

    Bit surprised, as the EU has caused rioting in Greece, Italy, spain, Portugal etc etc. I suppose they felt they had to give the award this year before war broke out. By the way, love the way Obama has lived up to his award. Drone attacks are so peaceful.............

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Barroso (unelected) accepts an award for "...advancing ..democracy"
    Think you'll find there was quite a lot of peace progress between 1945 and 1957 (pre EEC/EU) and around 1991 (Berlin wall - nothing to do with EU) not to mention W and E Germany re-unification (nothing to do with EU).
    A truly appalling, underserved award to an unelected bureacracy

  • Comment number 121.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    I am genuinely very proud of my miniscule share

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Is this because the endless wars it supports are all now somewhere else, along with the obscene amount of arms it manufactures and sells?

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    So will the prize money be shared out between all the members and how do I claim mine.
    Can't wait to have a share of the gravy train the MEP'S enjoy.
    At first I thought this was an April fool, just like the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    This is plainly absurd. The reason we have had peace in Western Europe is that the Americans protected Central Europe from the Soviets, whilst the rest of Europe to varying extents abdicated their duty to spend enough on defence!
    We should give the Nobel Prize to the USA for protecting our freedom and culture!

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    @ #84

    Um, no... I don't really see what your point is. My point is that Europe was a continent of war, almost permanently, and now it is not.

    There's a big difference between limited civil unrest due to a bit of relative financial hardship and all out total war.

    But I guess most of the Daily Mail crew on here need another war to realise what peace actually is yeah?

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Uniting the continent but dividing the people, creating civil unrest, causing death, destruction, despair, suicide, possibly leading to revolution/civil war...

    It's a wonder they didn't give it to the USSR for uniting eastern Europe and north Asia!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Please, someone should tell me it's a JOKE. With hundreds of thousand killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by eu countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    It would be Good if when I rate something as a +, it doesn't register as several minuses.

    Well done EU. Well deserved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I think it make sense at some level, if EU was not here, we'd be heading for WWV already. (Compared to the one given to Obama for doing nothing)
    It would be truly said if the prize is given to the US for not starting a war for a year or something. The irony really shows the political nature of the people who award the price and maybe we should just ignore it for now...

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    So when the (EU run & funded) European Defence Force was faced with genocide in Kosovo, why did it run pleading for help from NATO?

    NATO would be a far more deserving recipient, and has been what has really kept the peace in Europe for 60 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Unbelievable, giving these unelected people this prize. It's akin to giving the prize to Hitler for bringing Europe together.
    Just look at Greece and Spain, Europe is falling apart all because of these people and their policies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Tell that to Greece and Spain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Peace in Europe was kept by NATO and the Warsaw Pact deciding that fighting each other would be a bad idea.

    When war broke out in Europe, in the Balkans, the EU sat back and did nothing

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    This is clearly a desperate attempt to propagandize the idea of a European Superstate. Look at all the protests and clashes on the streets as a result of the monetry fraud perpetrated with the consent of the EU, call that peace? Maybe it will be peace compared to what Europe will be like in the next 10 years when people decide they are sick of being robbed by the IMF & EU criminals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    I understand there's some Europeans in Srebrenica who can't understand this

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Well done EU. The EU is far from perfect but its intentions are good and I think we should be proud to be a part and to be European. We share a great deal in common with our European neighbours (we're descended from them!) and surely better to be integrated with our neighbours than at loggerheads. We need an honest discussion on the pros and cons of EU membership, not just Daily Mail hearsay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    The prize should really be given to China for promoting world stability by continuing to buy up EU and US debt...


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