Nobel Peace Prize: A prize that “could not have come at a better time”

12 October 2012 – Presseurop

Hardly had the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union been let out of the bag that the European press responded with a mixture of enthusiasm and scepticism. At a time when Europe is doubting itself, emphasises the press, the award will encourage those who still believe in integration.

"The Nobel Peace Prize for the EU?" asks the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "This quarrelsome bunch of states, more or less bankrupt, whose largest project, the monetary union, is on the verge of blowing up in their faces? That’s a bit thick, coming from the Norwegian committee, which must be careful to ensure that over the long run its decisions will be taken seriously." The Munich daily, however, recognises the merit of European construction in keeping the peace in Europe, as well as its “honourable efforts" to bring a message of peace to the world. However, it recalls —


... the EU plays no significant role in the search for peace in the world, and things will stay that way for some time yet. We didn’t have to wait for the bitter experiences of the Euro crisis to grasp that Europeans do not stick together in the decisive moments and are more attached to their national undershirt than their European petticoat.

For the on-line French daily La Tribune, winning the Nobel Prize is a “surprise", coming as it does at a time when Europe is being brought low by the crisis.


These difficulties have brought to light that, beyond the reassuring speeches of the European leaders, the people remain attached to their nations, as shown by the reluctance of citizens of northern countries, led by Germany, to pay for the countries of the south. [...] Ironically, this prize may better reflect the worries of the Nobel Committee for the future and the cohesion of the EU. The idea is to recall the usefulness of the EU at a time when the ranks of the doubters are swelling.

According to El País, it’s "an unexpected reward" the EU has received. While pointing out that Norway, which gives out the Nobel Peace Prize, "refuses to join the club, after rejecting membership in referendums in 1972 and 1994, and whose surveys show that nearly three quarters of the population would make the same choice today,” the daily believes


Peace is inherent to the EU, where diplomacy is always seeking out [...] the best way to resolve conflicts before they escalate, or to get out of situations that have turned ugly [...] The EU came clumsily and too late to the Balkan War, when the United States pulled their chestnuts out of the fire [...] In the strategy of the stick and the carrot that must accompany all foreign policy, the EU is as shy with the stick as it is skilled with the carrot, and this handicap has not been a bad thing for a Union draped naturally in the flag of human rights.

In Rotterdam, the editor-in-chief of NRC Handelsblad, Juurd Eijsvoogel, writes that


The Chairman of the Nobel Committee announced that this year’s winner would provoke controversy. That it surely will, as the EU is under fire. With its choice, the Committee has brushed up against a delicate subject, as it did in 2009 by awarding the prize to Barack Obama. On the other hand, it is hard to argue that the EU has not made an important contribution to peaceful coexistence in Europe.

In a commentary published on the website of the state television broadcaster RTP, Público columnist Teresa de Sousa writes that, according to her, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU —


... is a warning that could not have come at a better time for governments and leaders as well as the European institutions, to help them think harder about how they can avoid a European breakdown. [...] The question is whether European leaders will pay sufficient attention to this award.

Factual or translation error? Tell us.