Should the EU have been awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize?

The decision to hand the European Union the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize has been welcomed by some, and mocked by others, especially at a time when the bloc is struggling through the weight of economic debt.

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But as much as the decision has been awarded as a symbol of hope, it has also been delivered as an acknowledgement of the past.

The EU was created after the Second World War in an effort to foster better international relations, under the banner of the European Economic Community, or the EEC. The thought was, that countries that trade with one another would become interdependent, and as a result, would likely avoid conflict with each other.

The idea was born in 1951, when Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed a plan the cement a deal that would see common management for their coal and steel industries. It was taken another step further in 1958 when they expanded this cooperation to other sectors of the economy to allow for easy trade between borders.

Its first international agreement came in 1963 when it agreed to help 18 former colonies in Africa, providing development assistance to poorer countries, expanding its role from that of just economic cooperation, to that of humanitarian aid.

Today, 27 European countries form part of the economic and political partnership, which changed its name formally, to the European Union in 1993.

People often confuse the EU as having its sole purpose to run the Euro currency. But the Euro is the common currency in only 17 of the 27 EU nations, and the bloc’s mission extends beyond just currency.

That’s why it’s important to take a look at some of the reasons why the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the EU the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012.

In a statement, the Committee said the award recognises the “six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.

The bloc effectively stopped the decades of wars between France and Germany.

Greece, Spain and Portugal had to introduce democracy, foregoing dictatorships as part of their admission into the bloc.

Croatia looks set to be introduced into the EU next year, potentially leading to other Balkan inclusions, strengthening the reconciliation process in that region, despite what some say is the bloc’s dismal track record in dealing with the Balkan wars.

Others would argue that the creation of this single bloc is what lead to the financial problems plaguing the region today, which has lead to violent protests across the continent.

Over the past few years, some people say the Nobel Peace Prize has been influenced by politics, or awarded as a symbol of hope like 2009 laureate Barack Obama and politicians Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994.

No doubt though, this year’s recipient means the focus will firmly be placed in Europe, placing even more pressure to resolve the debt crisis which is causing much conflict.

It does pose the question, would the EU even had a look in, if the European financial crisis wasn’t in full bloom?


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