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 143.

    I've seriously just checked my calendar - I felt sure this was an April Fool's Day Joke.

    The EU is an appalling institution run by, and for, greedy self-serving politicians who use the threat of war to keep the peoples of Europe in a state of fear. France and Germany have, for centuries, wanted to dominate Europe - they have now managed it through economic not military means. That isn't peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Congratulations - Good Work

    I would argue its nuclear weopons that have prevented WW 3 and the fact that Germany still has 200,000 foreign troops within its demise has helped peace.

    Regards Spain, Portugal and Greece , they could all regret the day when they joined the pact , their economies are basket cases and will be no better in 5 years time .

    Europe is the next big dictatorship !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Truly unbelievable. A complete farce which devalues the Nobel Peace prize. Which countries right now given a referendum would vote to stay in the EU? UK? Spain? Greece? Germany? even France might not. I wonder which one of our wonderfully democratic leaders will collect the prize our unelected 'Foreign Minister' Catherine Ashton? or the equally unelected 'President' Von Rompey?

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Strange lot the Norwegians

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    The EU is a catastrophe and has been the harbinger of doom for a number of European economies.Human Rights simply protect the vile and the vicious but that never bothers self serving EU "leaders" who are more concerned about "rights" than "responsibilities".The USA sorted out the Bosnian conflict,not the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Well deserved! The Union has certainly come a long way and affected a lot of lives positively! Congratulations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Is there any money associated with it? If there isn't, then fine. They can have their award and be proud of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    They have to be joking! No better than giving it to Obama just for getting elected or to Henry Kissinger.

    The EU is a source of permanent dissension, economically and politically.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    I really do despair when I read some of the comments concerning this news story. Sadly many in Britain are becoming more xenophobic with an almost pathological hatred for all things european. This attitude to a great extent is being driven by many of our politicians who very worryingly are becoming more and more fundamentalist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Ludicrous - and just brings the prize into disrepute.

    But at least it gives the EU enthusiasts something to cheer about - they haven't had much for a while as economic realities have derailed their pet project.

    I guess they had to get the prize awarded this year - before the whole misguided and corrupt edifice comes crashing down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Europe falling apart riots all over the place mass unemployment. And to boot we have european troops involved in wars left right and center.
    This is the biggest joke (propaganda) that I have heard for some time

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Six decades of the EU, bit of a problem with the maths there then as
    the European Union started on November 1, 1993 by the Treaty of Maastricht. That is not even two decades in fact not even 19 years until November 1st this year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    " part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses"
    - The EU is not a person and anyway I don't see the EU meeting any of these criteria in the last year... especially with escalating tensions on border with Syria and riots on the streets...

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    I just don't get some people. The intentions of the EU are not peace, it is power hungry and it is creating a huge mess, there is hardly peace in Europe now. Then I read people's comments on here, they really need to look at the facts, the EU is causing extreme poverty in Spain, to the extent where the red cross is appealing for help! Really great stuff and peaceful when there is violent protests!

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Thus entrenching the view that the Peace Prize is little other than a joke these days.

    From damaging the African economies, to ignoring Fatah corruption allowing Hamas to gain power, to pushing the likes of Greece and Spain towards a precipice of civil unrest. Very peaceful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Why didn't NAFTA win?

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    It is quite obvious to me that many of the posters here read the Daily Mail and Daily Express and believe everything that is written there. Please for the life of me do some research into what the EU really is about and you may surprise yourselves.

    Although I believe the EU's achievements in peace and human rights should be recognised, this award may be a few decades too late?

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Hahahaha - this is hilarious! In fact, I think the Nobel prize should go to.. The World. After all there hasn't been a world war for, what, 67 years now..
    Or what about Iceland? They didn't have a war to start with, a pretty 'peaceful' example?

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    It's to all 500 million of us.

    When do I go to collect it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Well there you go.

    We didn't vote them in.

    We can't vote them out.

    They get a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Signed and sealed. This is how it works. It makes me laugh and get angry at the same time.

    All this self-congratulating that goes on behind the scenes. People don't know the half of it.

    The EU is an undemocratic monster and part of the attempt to impose a one world government.


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