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 183.

    I'm pleased Europe got this award although I know it is difficult because of the crisis. It is just a sign of encouragement. Someone said that France, for the last millenium, has never been in peace more than 4 years. This peace is praised, actually, is the result as how, mainly France and Germany, succeeded to get along instead of wars. 67 years of peace replaced 3 wars in 75 years between them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    113. God-Dad

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


    That's because your screen doesn't update in real time. In between your screen loading and you clicking the up arrow, several other people may have clicked the down arrow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    @61. ChainReaction - what you stated about Bill gates is of course true, as is the fact that some countries in the EU are financially unstable, however the prize is awarded for achievements in peace, and not for financial growth or health improvements. Yes these achievements are fantastic as well, but they are not applicable to the peace prize.

  • Comment number 180.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Jeez... World War 3 is impending if this is the best they can do. The Nobel peace prize should be awarded to someone who stops a war, not someone who hasn't started one for a few years. I haven't invaded any countries later so can I have one too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    I note that the EU didn't win the Nobel Prize for Economics...

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Posthumus Peace Price for Sadam, after all he did stop the different sects all killing each other!.

    For those saying peace is worth the price of bodies such as the EU how far do you take it? How much freedom should be sacrificed for peace?
    Liberal Democracies have a long history of not attacking other liberal democracies, no matter the continant they are on. This has NOTHING to do with the EU!

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    Can anyone take this prize seriously these days after they awarded the prize to Obama for 'Middle East peace'?

    Such a shame

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Wait... what...

    I'm all for cooperation, but this just seems odd. Even if you ignore the comparatively few problems the EU has, awarding a prize to it for something it was partly set up to achieve seems silly. Who's next the EU? That said the Nobel Commission did give it to Obama before he'd even done anything...

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Peace and freedom is earned by the blood and treasure of the nations and peoples who sacrificed for it. And that means the United States, whether we like it or not. In no universe does the EU even come close to fitting the bill, just ask the people of Bosnia and Kosovo,Northern Ireland, or Cyprus what they think of the EUs efforts to secure peace in Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    hahahaha i thought your could,nt stoop as low as barack bin laden ,guess i was wrong .revolution is coming sheeple .and the sooner the better!

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    This smacks of desperate justification for the existence of the EU in the face of the current economic and social crises with which it is now rife.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Hmm... Britian is part of the EU ... and I'm part of Britain ...
    Hooray, I've won a Nobel prize, and so have you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! EU. We must celebrate this with new Euro 1000 bank note!

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    This is actually what the EU is about. Despite the current problems at least the wars are carried out around the conference table and not on the battlefield.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    This "award" is an absolute joke. Obama, now the EU; between them responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. This award is surely for democide not peace!

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    @ colinwe

    "Fantastic news, 60 years without Europeans killing each other."

    Apart from the Balkans, Chechnya, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Basque region, etc etc etc.

    Peace in (the rest of) Europe has been achieved because of mutually assured destruction, and of course the general rule that democracies don't go to war with one another.

    No doubt the Eurofanatics will today be as delusional as ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Is this in the latest script of, 'The Thick Of It'. Oh wait a minute, you just could not make this up could you? And as for those muppets who want to be members of a fully blown, increasingly undemocratic fascist state, good luck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.


    To assume we would be at war without the EU is ridiculous & impossible to evidence. Doesn't rioting in Greece/Spain count? Just wait until Turkey joins!

    But to refer to 6 decades advancing "democracy" shows these people have flipped. Maastricht, Lisbon, referendum on membership?

    I'll award them the prize for the organisation that has survived longest with falsified accounts!

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.



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