European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso reacts, as he received flowers by Norway’s ambassador to the EU Atle Leikvoll, after the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was given to the EU, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its efforts to promote peace and democracy in Europe, an award given even though the bloc is struggling with its biggest crisis since it was created in the 1950s. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission president had no reason to expect anything but another bad day. Then, out of the blue, after three years of back-biting and seemingly daily financial crisis, the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize for fostering peace on a continent long ravaged by war.
It was a badly needed morale boost for a 60-year-old union in the midst of a midlife crisis.
Even as it announced the award Friday, the Norwegian prize jury warned that the financial crisis challenging the 27-nation bloc’s unity could lead to a return to “extremism and nationalism.” It urged Europeans to remember the EU’s role in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europe’s bloodiest wars, even as they tackle the economic crisis that threatens its future.
The award was hailed at EU headquarters in Brussels and by pro-EU leaders across Europe, but derided by “euroskeptics” who consider the EU an elitist super-state that erodes national identities.
Emerging for a brief encounter with reporters, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was beaming as he declared: “Ladies and gentlemen, I have to say that when I woke up this morning, I did not expect it to be such a good day.”
“The Nobel Peace Prize committee and the international community are now sending a very important message to Europe that the European Union is something very precious, that we should cherish it for the good of Europeans and for the good of the entire world,” he said.
The announcement was met with negative reactions in debt-ridden countries like Spain and Greece, where many blame Germany and other northern EU neighbors for the painful austerity measures like higher taxes and job cuts they have endured in a so-far failed effort to salvage their floundering economies.
As the EU grinds toward the three-year mark in its withering financial crisis, problems abound, Login to read more