On 12 October 2012, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, paying tribute to “the Union and its forerunners [who] have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
The Prize goes to the EU as a whole: not only to its founding fathers or to its key leaders, but to every EU citizen. It is a prize “for the 500 million citizens living in our Union,” said the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy in a joint statement.
“The raison d’être of the EU and its predecessors is reconciliation,” explains Andrew Rasbash, Head of Operations of the EU Delegation to Ukraine. The European continent could have gone back to older conflicts after World War II, but “fortunately, Robert Schuman and others had more imagination,” he adds. “We don’t have armies defending our frontiers any more because we don’t need them,” Mr. Rasbash reminds.
Indeed, European integration has succeeded in overcoming the tragic legacy of the two World Wars, integrating newly-democratic Greece, Spain and Portugal in the 1980s, reconciling the East and the West after the fall of the Berlin Wall in the 1990s, and building an area of solid peace and prosperity.
“Now the challenge is to spread these benefits across the European continent – including of course to Ukraine,” underlines Rasbash, adding that “the EU Delegation is at the forefront of that challenge.”
Today the EU remains the leading contributor of foreign aid in the world, including for peacekeeping; in 2010, the 27 EU Member States spent €53.4 billion to provide development assistance all over the planet.
Video of the Statement by José Manuel BARROSO, President of the EC, following the award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize
Conclusions of the European Council saying that the award is “a strong appeal to safeguard and strengthen Europe for the next generation”