European Union Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

European Union Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize for fostering peace on a continent ravaged by war, yet the Norwegian prize jury warned on Friday that the financial crisis challenging the bloc’s unity could lead to a return to “Extremism and Nationalism”.

The award was hailed at the EU headquarters in Brussels and by pro – EU government leaders across Europe, but derided by “Eurosceptics” who consider the EU an elitist superstate that strips citizens of their rights and erodes national identities.

The EU grew out of the tremendous devastation created by 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 European unity is being threatened by the debt crisis that has stirred deep tensions between north and south, caused unemployment to soar and sent hundreds of thousands of its citizens into the streets to protest tax hikes and job cuts.

“We do not have a position on how to solve these problems, but we send a very strong message that we should keep in mind why we got this Europe after World War II,” Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland told AP.General Studies Question Bank CD

“And that we should do everything we can to safeguard it, not let it disintegrate and let the extremism and nationalism grow again, because we know what catastrophes that all this leads to,” he said. “If the euro starts falling apart, then I believe that the internal market will also start falling apart. And then obviously we get new nationalism in Europe. … This is not a good scenario.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Nobel committee had made a “Wonderful Decision,” and linked it to efforts to salvage the euro though the judges didn’t mention the common currency, specifically.

Normally, the prize committee either honours lifetime achievement, like when longtime peace mediator Martti Ahtisaari won in 2008, or promotes a work in progress, such as the 1994 award to Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, which was meant to boost West Asia peace efforts.

This year’s award does both. Mr. Jagland told AP it “Looks backward as well as Forward” by recognising the EU’s historical role in building peace, but it does so at a time when nationalist forces that once tore the continent apart are again on the rise.

European Commission President Barroso welcomed the award as a “Great Honour” for all Europeans.

However, online the Nobel Committee’s decision sparked strong reactions from some on Twitter.

“Anti-austerity protests in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy & France, Nationalism, Fascism, unemployment and poverty. Yeah EU deserves it!” @AnonOpGreece said on Twitter. British eurosceptics also reacted with dismay, and Poland’s Lech Walesa, who won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize for leading the country’s anti – Communist movement, said he was “Unpleasantly Surprised” by the choice.