continues to struggle with the current economic crisis, bail outs and people going hungry and without employment, the EU wins the Nobel Peace Prize 2012.
This has caused a heated debate and even, apparently, some laughter, over the validity of this prize.
Possibly those suffering from the austerity measures being harshly imposed in some European countries, including Spain, Greece and Italy, would tend to disagree on the "democracy" and "human rights" aspects of the prize awarded to the EU.
The unanimous decision was made by a five-person panel chaired by Thorbjoern Jagland, Council of Europe Secretary-General, who is a strong advocate of the EU in Norway. According to Jagland, “The EU helped transform Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”
“It is a message to Europe to secure what they have achieved . . . and not let the continent go into disintegration again because it means the emergence of extremism and nationalism,” he added.
The predecessor of the EU was the European Coal and Steel Community, which helped to rebuild a continent, decimated by two World Wars. Possibly it would have been more suitable for the prize to be awarded at that stage, when the organization was actually doing some good for it's people?
Martin Callanan, leader of the Conservatives and Reformists Party in the European Parliament said, “The Nobel committee is a little late for an April fools joke. Twenty years ago this prize would have been sycophantic but maybe more justified. Today it is downright out of touch.”
Ironically, Norway, the Nobel Peace Prize’s host nation, refused to take up membership in the EU in 1972 and again in 1994. Speaking to local news service NRK, Heming Olaussen, leader of Norway’s anti-EU membership organization, described the awarding of the Nobel Peace prize to the EU as “absurd.”
The Globe and Mail
has a full list of reactions to the announcement ranging from shock to comedy.
, the leader of Britain's UK Independence Party, allegedly said: "This goes to show the Norwegians really do have a sense of humor. The EU may be getting the booby prize for peace because it sure hasn’t created prosperity."
However, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said, "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?"
President of the EU Parliament, Martin Schulz, reportedly said he was “deeply touched and honored” by the prize.
Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, said he was honored by the decision.
“It is a great honor for all 500m citizens of Europe, for all the member states, and for all the European institutions,” Barroso said at a news conference. “Through its transformative power, the EU was able, starting with six countries, to reunite almost all the European continent.”
Apparently the last time an organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize was 13 years ago, when French charity Medecins Sans Frontieres
(Doctors without Borders) garnered the award, which was probably amply deserved by them.
The last time the Nobel Committee caused a bit of controversy and raised eyebrows, was by granting the prize to a newly inaugurated US President Barack Obama, in 2009. He apparently received the award “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” It was certainly not for his later plans to remotely kill civilian women and children with drones, sign bills for the indefinite detention of US citizens without need of a warrant, keep good old Gitmo going, etc.
As part of the award, the European Union will receive the princely sum of $1.2 million from the Nobel Committee on December 10. Regrettably, this is not quite enough to bail out even one of its poor and struggling member nations.