From war to peace and cooperation

A great tribute to the European Union: this year’s Nobel Peace Prize was presented on 10 December at a ceremony in Oslo. What for? For contributing for over sixty years to “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,” the Nobel Committee explains. The heads of the European institutions – Council President Van Rompuy, Commission President Barroso and Parliament President Schulz – accepted the prize on behalf of the EU’s around 500 million citizens. The ceremony was attended also by a large number of heads of state and government, including Federal Chancellor Merkel.

“The Prize is both deserved and necessary,” Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland said in his presentation speech. He recalled the long history of European integration, which had seen a continent that had given rise to two world wars become a continent of peace.

Driving force for reconciliation

The EU had consistently been a driving force for reconciliation, he noted, highlighting in particular the role Germany and France had played. In adopting the Schuman plan of 1950 and establishing the Coal and Steel Community, they had laid the foundations for close economic cooperation, which “set history on a completely different course.” Franco‑German reconciliation, he explained, was probably “the most dramatic example in history to show that war and conflict can be turned so rapidly into peace and cooperation.”

EU flag

EU flag
© picture-alliance/dpa

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EU flag

EU flag

EU flag

Big challenges lie ahead

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy spoke in his speech of the historic task that still lay ahead for the EU: keeping peace where there is peace. The importance of the European Union was especially clear in current economic crisis, he noted. And European Commission President Barroso emphasized the common values and interests on which the EU is built.

Since 1901 the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded annually by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo. According to the last will and testament of Alfred Nobel (1833‑1896), the industrialist who endowed the prize, it should be awarded to the person “who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

Nobel Prize an “incentive”

The Nobel Committee had announced on 12 October that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize would go to the EU. At the time Chancellor Merkel welcomed it as “a wonderful decision” and Foreign Minister Westerwelle said that “we see the Nobel Prize as a tremendous incentive to act now to resolve our problems, make our European model of cooperation truly worth emulating and intensify still further our common European endeavours to make the world a more peaceful place.”

The Prize is worth around 930,000 euros, which will be donated to help children living in war and crisis zones.

Last updated 10.12.2012

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