As it struggles with internal divisions and an ongoing debt crisis, the European Union has been given a surprise morale boost by the Nobel Committee—plus a $1.2 million prize a few of its members could certainly use. The committee awarded the 2012 peace prize to the 27-member bloc, citing its six decades of contributing "to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe," the New York Times reports.
Many found the Norwegian committee's decision surprising, not least because Norway itself has twice rejected EU membership, the Telegraph reports. More on the rationale and reaction, from the Guardian and AP:
- "The stabilizing part played by the European Union has helped to transform a once-torn Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace," says Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland.
- "This goes to show the Norwegians really do have a sense of humor," says the leader of the UK Independence Party.
- “The Nobel committee is a little late for an April fool's joke,” says European Parliament member Martin Callanan. “The EU’s policies have exacerbated the fallout of the financial crisis and led to social unrest that we haven’t seen for a generation."
- The Nobel's Jagland defended the latter point: “There are many things to say about the economic crisis—where it originated for instance. It started in the United States, and we had to deal with it.”
Before the decision, bookies had given the best odds to American political scientist Gene Sharp and Egyptian nun Maggie Gobran.