The European Union has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for its 6 decades of commitment to and success in unifying a continent. As the Norwegian Nobel Committee put it, the EU has contributed “to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
In this season of financial tumult, one cannot help but wonder how the 1.2 million dollar prize may be split in the EU. With over 500 million citizens, there seems no fair way for each member to receive a direct cut of the prize. While the financial crisis has left many crying that this prize was wrongly awarded (see the comments here, for example), others will say that this award may also have been given in the hope that it will help further solidify the Union’s commitment to endure and mutually support each nation through the crisis.
While the EU has been struggling financially during the wide-spread recession of late, their contributions in “peace, reconciliation, democracy, and human rights” have been monumental for citizens of Europe and the general stability of the continent since World War II. Prior to the formation of the European Union, France and Germany alone had endured three wars within 70 years. Today, that seems unthinkable. The EU had a significant role in the destruction of the Berlin Wall and has welcomed several former Soviet nations into their member, expanding democracy and civil rights to millions of people.
While the European countries are unified in this group, each one is also individually sovereign. Therefore, there is still no EU standard on issues like immigration or equality in marriage rights, for example, as well as there being no political union. However, the EU’s ability to guide such diverse groups through decades without war or violence is a remarkable accomplishment.
You can hear more about this award in an interview on NPR.
Find out who won the other 2012 Nobel Prizes in our blog: Nobel Winners 2012.