The European Union has won the Nobel Peace Prize, and given the dysfunctions in Europe right now, this is being greeted with a lot of jokes and scepticism.
And frankly, given some of the past winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, the award is already looked at skeptically by some.
But actually, this was a great call. What the EU has accomplished peace-wise has been pretty remarkable.
Here are the first two paragraphs from the press release:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 is to be awarded to the European Union (EU). The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.
In the inter-war years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made several awards to persons who were seeking reconciliation between Germany and France. Since 1945, that reconciliation has become a reality. The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe. Over a 70-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars. Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable. This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners.
But the real point is not what the EU has accomplished, but what needs to be addressed right now.
As everyone knows, much of the continent is in turmoil, and not only that, in some places, civil society is collapsing.
The scene in Greece yesterday, where the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party attacked journalists and others at a protest of a play was a stunning example of what happens when an economy disintegrates.
As one Greek put it after the confrontation: “In times like this the importance of European solidarity is paramount. If you are a friend of Greece, your help is needed. Now, not later.”
This point was all brought together by Dow Jones journalist Matina Stevis, who tweeted:
[credit provider=”Matina Stevis” url=”https://twitter.com/MatinaStevis/status/256684243491631104″]
Now, you can debate how the Euro crisis should be ended (more bailouts, more fiscal integration, going back to old currencies) but it’s clear that the present crisis in some places is risking the destruction of peace and safety, and that there’s certainly the potential for things to end badly.
So the Nobel Prize, with its limited influence, thought it might be good to send the continent a wake up call. Well done.