The Nobel Peace Prize was on Friday awarded to the European Union, an institution wracked by the euro crisis but credited with bringing more than a half century of peace to a continent ripped apart by two world wars.
The decision was received rapturously in a beleaguered Brussels and by European leaders. It was met with derision by many who pointed to the fact many Europeans now associate the EU with poverty and unemployment.
“The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,” Nobel committee president Thorbjoern Jagland said in Oslo.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso described the award as a recognition that the EU represented a “unique” attempt to “shape a continent of peace and prosperity”.
The decision sparked strong reactions from some on Twitter. “Anti-austerity protests in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy & France, Nationalism, Fascism, unemployment and poverty. Yeah EU deserves it!” @AnonOpGreece said.
“Does the prize money go to the EU? Perhaps they can use it toward the Spanish bailout,” said @jbarro.
“Who are they going to give it to next? The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?” prominent Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva said. The United Nations is the only other grouping of states to win the prize.
Others noted the irony of Norway, a country that has repeatedly rejected the euro and EU membership, giving this prize.
Oslo, while congratulating Brussels, stressed again it was not considering EU membership at the moment.