The best time for receiving a prize is without a shadow of a doubt whenever someone is going through hard times or whenever that person is starting to doubt or to be doubted by the general public. It serves to boost morale. A prize normally comes as a reward for the endeavour of great achievements, only attainable after much blood and sweat, persistence and courage. So, for those of you who missed out on who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, there is a little riddle: The reason cited by the Norwegian Noble Committee was “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.
Who could it possibly be then? The European Union, of course! After all, a supranational organization, which has emerged from a continent in pure ruin after World War II and which has managed to unify 27 Member States (28 next year: welcome Croatia!) across Europe in a stable allegiance of peace and commerce, is worth winning such a dignified prize. According the Nobel Prize Institution, among the other many organizations, though not entirely comparable to the EU, which are also laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize are the International Committee of the Red Cross (1917, 1944, 1963), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1954, 1981), UN Peacekeeping Forces (1988), the United Nations itself (2001) and Amnesty International (1977). As you can see, these organizations also have the same peace-making principle as the EU. As a curiosity, when Noble died, he clearly stated in his will that he would give a Norwegian Committee this competence, before Norway was actually a country in 1905 (with King Haakon VII).
Time for the EU to once more play, listen and sing its anthem, the Ode to Joy by Ludwig van Beethoven, with pride. And when we say the EU, we mean all 500 million citizens, according to Durao Barroso, the president of the EU Commission. After all, Europeans themselves have made it happen through parliamentarian democracy. The Head of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, states that this comes as a result of the EU being “the biggest peacemaking institution ever created in human history”, according the British newspaper The Guardian. Although in the opinion of this humble editor, this sounds a tad pretentious, it is true nonetheless that the EU in the biggest provider for development and humanitarian aid in the world, for example. Its ambitious foreign policy, its respect for human rights and the will to export these values worldwide are not only things which are within the EUT Lisbon Treaty (for more information, please visit: http://ginrevista.com/2012/03/09/values-the-cornerstone-of-eu-foreign-policy/) but are actual objectives being accomplished now by European diplomats who take part of the External Service around the globe.
Starting from the Schuman Declaration in 1950 at the Quai d’Orsay, which started the whole reintegration process using economic integration as its basis with the ECSC (the later EEC to nowadays, the EU) at a time where another war seemed inevitable, finds itself in a situation with a common currency (17 Member States), an integrated social and economic area and one of the most advanced bureaucratic and democratic institutions that the world has ever seen. There are a great deal of critics comparing the selection by the Nobel Committee with Obama’s one (who was given the Prize after being nine months in office, though his efforts for world peace were genuine.). Also, a great deal of nationalists and radicals within the EU including Geert Wilders, Nigel Farage and Panos Skourletis have immensely criticized it, comparing it to a charade mixed with bad humour. Though they must be listened to as is norm in European democracy, they must be reminded of the true spirit of the European Union as a pure project of peace, that today in the present crisis we seemed to have forgotten completely. And above all, we must remember the following: today in Europe, we take peace for granted without realising the amount of blood and sweat that was necessary in order to establish one of Europe’s longest periods of peace in history. Let this be a reminder to all Europeans.