EU wins Nobel prize for peace
OSLO, Norway—The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize today for promoting peace and democracy in Europe—an honour that came as the 27-nation bloc was struggling with its biggest crisis since it was created in the 1950s.
The Norwegian prize committee said the EU was being honoured for six decades of contributions “to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe.”
The EU grew out of the tremendous devastation of World War II—fuelled by the conviction that ever-closer economic ties would make sure that century-old enemies never turned on each other again.
It’s now made up of 500 million people in 27 nations, with other nations lined up waiting to join.
But the European project now is facing its greatest challenge yet—a debt crisis that has stirred deep tensions between north and south, caused unemployment to soar, and prompted hundreds of thousands of its citizens to take to the streets protesting tax hikes and job cuts.
The bloc’s financial disarray is threatening the euro—the common currency used by 17 of its members—and even the structure of the union itself.
Social media exploded with strong reactions today, both for and against awarding the prize, which is worth eight million Swedish kronor ($1.2 million).
“The EU is an unique project that replaced war with peace, hate with solidarity. Overwhelming emotion for awarding of (hash)Nobel prize to EU,” Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, wrote in a tweet.
“Nobel prize for the EU. At a time Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next? An Oscar for Van Rompuy?” said Dutch euro-skeptic lawmaker Geert Wilders, referring to Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.
Normally, the prize committee either honours lifetime achievement, like when longtime peace mediator Martti Ahtisaari won in 2008, or promotes work in progress, such as the 1994 award to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Perez, and Yitzhak Rabin, which was meant to boost Mideast peace efforts.
This year’s award does both. It recognizes the EU’s historical role in fostering peace, but it does so at a time when nationalist forces that once tore the continent apart are on the rise.