EU awarded Nobel Peace Prize
The European Union has won the Nobel Peace Prize for its long-term role in uniting the continent, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced today.
The committee praised the 27-nation EU for rebuilding after the second World War and for its role in spreading stability to former communist countries after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
The award is seen as a morale boost for the union as it struggles to resolve its debt crisis.
Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said an hour before the announcement that the EU would win. The prize, worth $1.2 million (€925,659), will be presented in Oslo on December 10th.
European Commission president Jose Barroso said being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is a "great honour" for the European Union and a "justified recognition" of its work to promote peace and European values around the world.
European Council president Herman van Rompuy said: "We are all very proud that the efforts of the EU for keeping the peace in Europe are rewarded. Europe got through two civil wars in the 20th century and we have established peace thanks to the European Union. So the European Union is the biggest peacemaker in history."
Economic and Monetary Affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said that, despite "some gloom in the economy", it was a great day for Europe. "I am very proud of these European values which are also universal human values. This is a proud day for every European."
The accolade came as the fallout from the debt crisis threatens the EU's signal achievement, the euro, and the rise of powers such as China, India and Brazil challenges the European model of rules-based cooperation with nation-states handing sovereign rights to a central authority.
"Europeans won't be consoled by the Nobel Peace Prize in these difficult times," Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU's longest-serving government leader, told RTL radio. "What they expect, at every moment in European affairs, is that we make the right decisions."
French president Francois Hollande responded to the award with an appeal to European goodwill. The prize "confers an even greater responsibility on Europe: that of preserving its unity, of the capacity to promote growth and jobs, and of solidarity," Mr Hollande said.
However, UK Independence leader Nigel Farage said the award showed Norwegians, who twice rejected EU membership, "really do have a sense of humour".
He added: "The EU may be getting the booby prize for peace because it sure hasn't created prosperity. The EU has created poverty and unemployment for millions."