The European Union has been announced the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2012. Amidst Europe’s as-yet-unsolved crippling economic backdrop, a heated debate emerged over the validity of the prize.
The 27-nation organization was awarded the prizing for its historic role in ”uniting the continent” and its contributions“to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
“The EU helped transform Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” Thorbjoern Jagland, Council of Europe Secretary-General. The EU will be awarded $1.2 million on December 10 by the Nobel Committee, a far cry from the bailout funds needed to drag some of its member states out of the economic quagmire.
The unanimous decision was made by a five-person panel chaired by Thorbjoern Jagland, a strong advocate of the EU in Norway. Martin Schulz, president of the EU Parliament said he was “deeply touched and honored” by the prize. The last organization to be granted a Nobel Peace Prize was French charity Medecins Sans Frontieres 13 years ago.
Leader of Norway’s anti-EU membership organization Heming Olaussen described the awarding of the prize to the EU as “absurd” to local broadcaster NRK. The news came 60 years after the creation of the EU’s predecessor organization, the European Coal and Steel Community, which helped rebuild a continent decimated by two World Wars.
“The European Union is in the middle of one of its worst crises, but perhaps it is precisely now the peace and stabilization project deserves a hand from the ‘no’ country Norway?” Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said.
Norway, the Nobel Peace Prize’s host nation, refused membership in the EU in 1972 and again in 1994.
The Nobel Committee raised eyebrows and sparked widespread conjecture when it granted the prize to newly inaugurated US President Barack Obama in 2009. Despite having been in office for only two weeks, the committee saw fit to award him “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”