EU Honored, Critics Shocked by Nobel PrizeWorld | October 12, 2012, Friday // 14:20| views
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso is pictured here presenting his flagship plans to the parliament in his annual State of the Union speech at a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Septermber 12, 2012. EPA/BGNES
Praise, gratitude and shock have followed the news that the Nobel Peace Prize this year goes to the European Union.
Speaking shortly after the Nobel announcement in Oslo, European Commission president Jos? Manuel Barroso, said he was honored by the decision and that it was a reminder that even during the current crisis, "the EU is something very precious".
"It is a great honour for all 500m citizens of Europe, for all the member states, and for all the European institutions," Barroso said at a hastily-called news conference. "Through its transformative power, the EU was able, starting with six countries, to reunite almost all the European continent."
The emotion was shared by Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament,
''The EU is an unique project that replaced war with peace, hate with solidarity. Overwhelming emotion for awarding of Nobel prize to EU," Schulz commented on Twitter right after the news broke.
The critics however were quick to point out that the award is playing down the impact of the raging financial crisis, as well as the role of NATO for preserving the peace in Europe.
''I think it's an absolute disgrace. I think it brings the Nobel Prize into total disrepute,'' commented Nigel Farage, head of Britain's euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party.
''Nobel prize for the EU. At a time Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next? An Oscar for Van Rompuy?'', fumed Dutch euroskeptic lawmaker Geert Wilders, referring to Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council.
According to former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind the prize should have been shared with NATO.
"Until the end of the Cold War, it was NATO more than anyone else that kept the peace,'' he said.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, obviously playing down the impact of the raging euro zone debt crisis.
In announcing the award early on Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo said the EU had helped to transform Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.
The EU and its predecessors "have over six decades contributed to peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights," Nobel Committee president Thorbjoern Jagland said in Oslo.
Jagland acknowledged the EU's current financial problems and social unrest.
But he said the committee wanted to concentrate on the body's work over six decades of advancing "peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights".
The last organization to be given the award outright was Medecins Sans Frontieres, which won in 1999.