Nobel Peace Prize: EU's love-in at ceremony

image captionThe EU's three presidents collected the prize in Oslo

Many European papers strike an upbeat tone after the EU received the Nobel Peace Prize in a ceremony in Norway, but there are concerns about the decision of some leaders to stay away.

'Declaration of love'

The "photo of the day" on the front page of Germany's bestselling daily Bild shows EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and the president of the EU Parliament, Martin Schulz, holding the award documents and medal, next to the headline: "This prize belongs to us all".

"These three men are holding our prize in their hands," the paper says, adding that the three received the prize "on behalf of all Europeans".

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung carries a large, central photo of the ceremony on its front page. The paper says the chairman of the Nobel prize committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, had "clear words" for critics of the award to the EU by saying that "we are gathered here because here in Europe we believe that we must solve our problems together."

An article by Michael Koenig says the ceremony was "a pure declaration of love by the Europeans to the Europeans". "There was no room for anything else: the USA, for example, was not mentioned at all... and the crisis, too, was dealt with rather briefly."

A front-page commentary by Guenther Nonnenmacher in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says the award comes at a time when the EU "sorely needs encouragement".

Although criticism of the award is understandable, he writes, "which European nation, with the possible exception of the British, who continue to believe in the 'special relationship' with America, seriously believes that the challenges of globalisation could be overcome more easily by everybody going it alone rather than all together?"

The ceremony receives less prominent coverage in Tuesday's French press, but the Catholic daily La Croix has a front-page editorial devoted to the prize, entitled "The Europe of peace". The paper says the award has a "retrospective" quality, like a lifetime achievement award, but it also "commits" the EU to live by its values of freedom, democracy and justice.

'Notable absences'

Also striking an upbeat tone, Javier G Gellego in Spain's El Mundo says that "in the chronicles of the European Union, the date 10 December 2012 will appear in bold and underlined". The paper says the EU has received "the highest recognition it could aspire to" at a ceremony that "no community politician wants to miss".

Not true, says Italian paper Il Sole 24 Ore, which points out that there were "some notable absences", including "British Prime Minister David Cameron, who sent his more pro-European deputy Nick Clegg, and the [Swedish and Czech] Eurosceptics Freidrik Reinfeldt and Vaclav Klaus".

Italy's La Stampa also notes that David Cameron, "who is on a collision course with Brussels", sent Nick Clegg "and went to lunch with journalists in London".

Laurent Marchand in France's best-selling regional paper Ouest France says Cameron's absence "spoke volumes".

"However Eurosceptical British public opinion may be in the middle of the crisis, the issue of the Nobel prize and peace on the Old Continent would have merited a deviation from political calculations, unless he wants to abandon ship," he says.

Picking up on the theme, Jiri Sobota in the Czech weekly Respekt judges that "a country's presence at or absence from the ceremony may be only symbolic gestures, but they reflect the way in which individual states perceive the meaning of the EU's existence, their own history and place in Europe."

There was very little coverage of the event in the British press. Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that "the self-congratulatory tone taken by the Euro-grandees as they received the Nobel Peace Prize was rude, arrogant and dangerous".

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