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Is the EU a worthy winner?

How should the Nobel peace prize be considered?

, by Florent Banfi

The Nobel committee has awarded the 2012 Peace Prize to the European Union. One might consider that there are plenty of activists lying in prison which deserve the peace prize far more than European leaders, and this neglects the reality of history.

Peace is no longer an objective for the countries that joined the European Union. The economic interdependency, the institutions and the emerging common culture have tied the European people in a way that only the collapse of nation states (and accordingly the rule of law) could undermine the peace they live in.


  • Member of the Executive Bureau of UEF Europe and UEF France. Former member of the executive bureau of JEF Europe

How should the Nobel peace prize be considered?

Perhaps as a medal for a closely ending project. It is quite a negative conclusion but one should recall the economic crisis and how some European countries are struggling. Nevertheless, this doesn’t cancel that the European Union has efficiently acted for the development of peace during the past 50 years on its soil. In that case, the Nobel committee chose the European Union as it would have chosen an old and dying laureate “Before it disappears, we should be grateful for its political efficiency…” This analysis is lacking consistency by the simple fact of being too deeply rooted in European politics.

An external viewpoint would reckon that the European Union as a political project is far from being a dead idea. Needless to list all the conflicts occurred in recent past or which could spark in the near future to substantiate the usefulness of a political project aimed at allowing states to talk to each other in order to solve discrepancies. For the very specific reason that peace is today considered accepted, we can say that it deserved its award. The institutionalisation and involvement of citizens has in the long run brought successful results. European Union: good job!

And for non-Europeans?

When looking at what happens in the Asia-Pacific area, nationalism and foreign-enemy propaganda is a daily reality. The populist fight for the small islands underscores more than ever that inter-regional institutions are necessary. Military power or strong economic ties are not sufficient to organise relations in a peaceful way that’s why the legal based institutions are necessary at the regional level.

If the European leaders were to make something useful from the Nobel Peace Prize they should promote integration and transnational democracy in those areas where tensions are visible. After the inefficiency of the European political vision and action during the Arab Spring, the symbol and opportunity of this award should not be limited to a conference in Oslo. The European Union is the most advanced laboratory of post-national democracy and thus has a responsibility to promote and share its experience. This prize is an opportunity; let’s hope the political leaders will grab it.

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