The European Union has been awarded the Nobel peace prize for its role in promoting reconciliation. Thecommitteesaid the EU had helped to transform Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace”.
The head of the Nobel committee, Thorbjørn Jagland, cited the EU’s role as a force for peace after WW2 and following the Balkans crisis among the reasons for the decision. He said that thanks to the EU, another conflict between France and Germany was now “unthinkable”. Although he acknowledged that the EU has recently been troubled by financial crisis and social unrest, Jagland said that the committee had wanted to concentrate on the EU’s work over sixty years of advancing “peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights”.
The committee also mentioned the EU’s successes in opening up its membership, incorporating Spain, Portugal and Greece after their authoritarian regimes collapsed in the 1970s. It continues to grow, with Croatia set to receive membership next year and Serbia currently with candidate status. Though Turkey’s membership application has been ongoing for many years, Jagland said that the EU had “advanced democracy and human rights” in the country.
The news of the Nobel prize was met with great joy by many, including Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Herman Van Rompuy. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also called it a “great honour”. It was not all celebrations however as the choice was met with derision from many eurosceptics across the UK and the continent. Both Tory and UKIP MPs questioned the decision, and the Dutch extreme right politician Geert Wilders called it a joke. “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 choice of Nobel peace prize-winners has been controversial in the past, with Barack Obama winning it in 2009 despite having America fighting two separate wars.
Sources include: BBC News, The Guardian
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