World

Noble intent, bad timing

J. Srinivasan Chennai | Updated on October 16, 2012 Published on October 12, 2012




The economic crisis raged and nations seethed but Europeans maintained a calm that deserved recognition. It has come. Norway has awarded European Union the Peace Nobel.

Cold Norway, but a hot sense of humour. Oslo has opposed the EU idea, seeing it as a threat to sovereignty of nation states; twice Norwegians have voted against joining the bloc. Yet, the award.

What swung the Prize in EU’s favour, going by Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland, was the recognition that EU has transformed most of Europe “from a continent of wars to a continent of peace.”

But in the difficult times the Continent is going through, the subscript could well be: For peace holding despite the social unrest not seen in a long while as the economic crisis exacerbated mainly due to EU’s quirky policies.

Dutch eurosceptic lawmaker Geert Wilders dripped sarcasm when he quipped (reported by Reuters): “Nobel Prize for the EU at a time Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next? An Oscar for Van Rompuy?”

To be fair, the EU has calmed down a people ready to take offence on a big scale — don’t forget the two World Wars and before that a history of kings and queens either continuously bickering among themselves or with the Church till in 1648 a peace was brokered and Europe took its modern-day avatar at Westphalia. Indeed, some years back, in better times, the EU may have even looked deserving of a Nobel.

But in the current circumstances, the Prize Committee may have gone overboard. There is really no consensus within the EU itself on how to deal with the economic crisis.

There is no love lost between north and south Europe. The richer former looks down upon the latter, stopping short of calling it lazy. The latter is obviously not amused.

What price European Council President Van Rompuy’s support of the war with Libyan leader Col Gaddafi? Or, the standoffishness on Syria…

Yet, with this award, EU now joins the ranks of 21 international organisations that have won the Peace Nobel, prominent being UN (2001), UN peacekeeping forces (1988), Amnesty International (1977), Unicef (1965), and International Red Cross (1944 and 1917).

The EU leaders have gracefully accepted the award but are apparently yet undecided on what to do with the money. They better hurry. For with more nations than you can shake a finger at baying for any money, a fight could well break out for the 8 million Swedish kronor (about $1.2 million). Some may even fall into lamentation that the Nobel Foundation has trimmed the Prize money by 20 per cent from the 10 million kronor paid last year. The Foundation is apparently in a cost-cutting mode, and champagne may also not flow at the banquet. Be warned.

>srinivasan.j@thehindu.co.in

Published on October 12, 2012
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