EU gets Nobel Peace Prize for bringing about ‘continental peace’

Vidya Ram London | Updated on November 17, 2017 Published on October 12, 2012

The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize had an unexpected winner on Friday, as the Norwegian committee handed the coveted award to the European Union for advancing “peace, and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe” over the past six decades.

Head of the Committee Thorbjorn Jagland acknowledged the “grave economic difficulties” and social unrest the region was going through, but said the committee had decided to hand the EU the award because of the crucial role it had played in transforming Europe from “continental war” to “continental peace.”

“The dreadful suffering of World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe…today war between Germany and France is unthinkable and shows how through well-aimed efforts, historic enemies can become close partners,” he said.

North-south rift

The further expansion of the EU to encompass Greece, Spain and Portugal in the 1980s, and the breakdown of divisions between East and West Germany following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, as well as the roster of future potential members, all highlighted the role it had played in bringing peace to the region, he added.

The award comes at a time of growing strife between members of the EU, in particular between northern and southern Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced angry protests and even depictions of her as a Nazi, when she visited Athens earlier this week, over her country’s insistence on Greece’s austerity programme. In northern European states, including Germany, the Netherlands and Finland, there is growing unhappiness about their rising liabilities following the bailout programmes, and frustration with the lack of progress in implementing reforms.

As might be expected in such conditions, the news attracted widely differing reactions. “It is a great honour for the whole of the EU, all 500 million citizens, to be awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize,” said President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, following the announcement — a message reiterated by President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.

Criticism in UK

However, in Britain, where calls for a referendum on EU membership has been gaining ground, Head of anti-European UK Independence Party Nigel Farage was sharply critical of the award.

“You only have to open your eyes to see the increasing violence and division within the EU which is caused by the euro project,” he said on Friday.

Published on October 12, 2012
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