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 163.

    Few Brits seem to understand just how much of an achievement the EU really is.

    This many countries uniting completely voluntarily without one conquering the other.. unprecedented. The peace and stability it has brought to Europe - unthinkable a century ago, or any other time in history.

    Far from perfect, as shown in recent global crises, but I say well done and let's show some support!

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    The EU wins a Nobel Prize? How will we all fit into the Hall at the awards ceremony?

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    NATO protected Europe from the USSR. But the bigger threat was always within Europe. Century-old rivalries that destroyed the continent twice during the 20th century. Irrespective of whether one is positive towards the EU or not, this is something that must be recognized.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Both my grandparents fought in European wars and my dad's only sibling was killed fighting in Holland.

    The EU isn't perfect, but if it continues to prevent a reprise of the unprecented slaughter that occurred in Europe during the first half of the 20th century it will be seen as a triumph of civilization. Well done Nobel committee

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    News just in; posthumous knighthood for Adolph Hitler.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Here we go again.

    It’s not the EU that’s kept the (relative) peace, it’s NATO, backed by the US, and piles of nuclear weapons … which the peace lobby (a number of which are now riding the EU gravy train) spent those 60 years trying to scrap.

    Incidentally, I'm sure that in about 1990 Yugoslavia could have qualified for the prize on similar grounds with 40+ years peace under their belt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Given to a bunch of unelected Technocrats so that they can carry on destroying national sovreignty and force taxes and legislation on the whole of Europe. Still, its probably easier for the bankers to gamble one currency than many. I'm sure the Greeks will be well pleased with this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    In is easy to take for granted the peace and (comparative) prosperity that (Western) Europe has enjoyed since the founding of the ECSC.

    To go so long without major wars, such as in the early 1800s, 1860s, 1870s, 1914-18, the interwar period and 1939 to 45 is unprecedented in Western Europe and merits recognition.

    The EU, although imperfect and sometimes mistaken, is largely to thank for this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    What about Miss Worlds of the last 6 decades- they have talked just as much about world peace as the EU- and achieved as much. Must have been a really weak field of nominees. Who were they up against, Muammar Ghadaffi, Bashir Assad? It devalues the prize almost as much as giving it to Obama a couple of weeks after his inauguration for not being George W Bush.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Absolute nonsense. The Nobel is becoming a PC farce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    What complete and utter hypocrisy and nonsense. The EU is fundamentally elitist, unaccountable, undemocratic, bankrupt & the epicenter of the global financial crisis. It succeeds at all by forcing its well over the sovereignty of nation states and their citizens and increasingly a source of division, scorn and animosity across Europe. This is a self serving shameful bit of propaganda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    This is one of the best peace prize selection ever.

    you now make it created by you,evaluvated by you and to award to you.

    go on continue you good work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    #88 Calum McKay

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

    Why do you want a "freedom referendum" that takes you out of one union into one which will make Scotland even less autonomous than you think it is now? Surely that's neither freedom nor independence?

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    EU is maintaining peace for past 6 decades in Europe? Funny, I thought it was the combination of money, education and tiredness of many centuries of past wars that kept Europeans together. Add to it the weak Asia, Africa and Latin America. Somehow, I feel the EU is not going to save Europe from coming explosive danger of old population and asserting third world. Peace prize remains a joke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Don’t worry folks... it’s not very funny... but they are only having a laugh... err... right? ...they are only kidding aren’t they? Wow... they’ll be giving a Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize to Obama next! ...what do you mean?...err... oh dear!

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Totally deserved-is this the longest period of peace we have had on our continent?

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    In fact, NATO and nuclear weapons have kept the peace in Europe since the Second World War - the EU has had very little to do with it. Incidentally, Gorbachov won this Peace Prize too, in 1990 - in a delicious irony of history, the USSR crumbled shortly afterwards due to precisely the democratic deficit that will eventually lead to the demise of the EU, an uncannily similar institution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Wot a Joke this is, is it because Germany has taken over Europe without using bullets like they did in Two World Wars???

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Before the alliances that Europe made, there has never been a year when there wasn't war in Europe, so the EU works. Don't be deceived into thinking that if it wasn't there, there would still be peace, and if the Uk leaves, that there will be no "wars" with the Uk. Wars would more likely be financial unrest, with our largest trading countries aligning to work in their own interests against us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    ha ha ha ha.

    Are the EU a good idea if you are a fish?


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