It's got a collapsing currency and rioting on the streets but the European Union wins the Nobel PEACE Prize

  • Nobel committee said the award was for 'the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights'
  • But critics condemn the move at a time when the bloc is gripped by the Eurozone crisis and facing serious questions about its future
  • Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says it is 'slightly interesting' to give to the award to an 'acronym'
  • Tory MEPs joke the Nobel committee 'is a little late for an April fools joke' and declare: 'Parody is redundant'
  • Tony Blair hails the EU as 'one of the defining concepts' of the last 50 years
  • The prize is awarded by a panel of five people from Norway - which is not even a member of the EU

By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

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The European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday, despite a year marked by rioting  and the prospect of an acrimonious break-up of the euro.

Awarding the prize, the Norwegian committee praised the EU for its  six decades of contributions 'to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights  in Europe'.

However, the announcement caused widespread bemusement and derision, with critics pointing out that it comes as the eurozone battles the worst recession for nearly a century.

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The European Union will receive the $1.2million dollar prize in December

The European Union will receive the $1.2million dollar prize in December

The past 12 months have also seen Brussels help to push aside the democratically elected governments in Greece and Italy, and widespread civil unrest and rioting.

This week saw Greek citizens dressed as Nazis burn swastika flags to protest at a visit to Athens by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Last night former Chancellor Lord Lamont ridiculed the decision, saying: 'Today's decision seems preposterous and absurd.

'It would require a heart of stone not to die of laughter. It is the most ridiculous decision since the committee gave the peace prize to Barack Obama when he had been US President for two minutes.'

Norwegian Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland today said the award was for the 'advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe'

Norwegian Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland today said the award was for the 'advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe'

The world's media gathered for the shock announcement at a press conference in Oslo, Norway

The world's media gathered for the shock announcement at a press conference in Oslo, Norway

Nobel committee chairman  Thorbjoern Jagland acknowledged that the EU was facing 'grave  economic difficulties and considerable social unrest'.

But he insisted: 'The stabilising part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.' The announcement was greeted with glee in Brussels, where European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso added: 'The EU is something very precious.

We should cherish it for the good of Europeans and for the good of the entire world.'

And former prime minister Tony Blair said: 'The EU is one of the defining concepts of the last half century.

We would do well to remember that when the Second World War ended Europe was in ruins. What followed has been over 50 years of peace and progress.'

THE NOT-SO WORTHY WINNERS OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Yasser Arafat was awarded the prize in 1994 for his role in advancing the Middle East peace process

Yasser Arafat was awarded the prize in 1994 for his role in advancing the Middle East peace process

In winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the EU has joined an inglorious list of people and organisations, including:

  • Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger. He was awarded the prize in 1973 for negotiating the Vietnam Peace Accords. It later emerged that he was in charge of the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos, which saw more than 260million bombs dropped over nine years, and supported brutal regimes in Chile and Argentina.
  • Cordell Hull, the US secretary of state under Franklin Roosevelt. He was awarded the Nobel in 1945 for helping to establish the UN. This  was despite sending Jewish refugees back to Germany during the Second World War after rejecting reports of the Holocaust.
  • Yasser Arafat was awarded the prize in 1994 for his role in advancing the Middle East peace process. But the former Palestine leader is also credited with creating modern day terrorism and ordered the 1972 Munich massacre, in which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team died.
  • Barack Obama was given the prize in 2009 – nine moths after his election –  for ‘strengthening international diplomacy’ shortly before his  escalation of the drone wars in Afghanistan. Critics claim he was actually handed it for being the first black President in US history Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchu won the prize in 1992 for her campaigns to help the poor. She was later exposed as having made up many of her achievements.

Here is a list of recipients in the last decade:

2012: The European Union

2011: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

2010: Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

2009: US President Barack Obama

2008: Martti Ahtisaari, UN Special Envoy at the Kosovo status process talks

2007: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore

2006: Bangladeshi banker Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank

2005: International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei

2004: Kenyan enivronmental activist Wangari Maathai

2003: Iranian lawyer and human rights campaigner Shirin Ebadi

2002: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

However, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: 'Never a week goes by that we don't see riots and protests in capital cities against the economic prison they have imposed. Rather than bring peace and harmony, the EU will cause insurgency and violence.'

Arch eurosceptic Bill Cash said: 'It is like giving an Oscar to a box office flop. It is thanks to Nato, the Marshall Plan and the help of the United States that Europe maintained peace after World War Two, certainly not the European Union.'

Ridicule also flowed in from the City, where businesses and banks fear a breakup of the euro. Peter Hargreaves, co-founder of financial adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, said: 'It's mad. It will be interesting to see if they take it back if Greece dissolves into martial law.'

Demonstrators in Athens burn a flag emblazoned with a swastika during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Demonstrators in Athens burn a flag emblazoned with a swastika during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Why did they do it? The full statement from the Nobel Peace Prize Committee's on awarding the 2012 prize to the European Union

'The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 is to be awarded to the European Union (EU).

'The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.

'In the inter-war years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made several awards to persons who were seeking reconciliation between Germany and France.

'Since 1945, that reconciliation has become a reality.

'The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe. Over a seventy-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars.

'Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable. This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners.

'In the 1980s, Greece, Spain and Portugal joined the EU. The introduction of democracy was a condition for their membership.

'The fall of the Berlin Wall made EU membership possible for several Central and Eastern European countries, thereby opening a new era in European history.

'The division between East and West has to a large extent been brought to an end; democracy has been strengthened; many ethnically-based national conflicts have been settled.

'The admission of Croatia as a member next year, the opening of membership negotiations with Montenegro, and the granting of candidate status to Serbia all strengthen the process of reconciliation in the Balkans. In the past decade, the possibility of EU membership for Turkey has also advanced democracy and human rights in that country.

'The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest.

'The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU's most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.

'The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.

'The work of the EU represents "fraternity between nations", and amounts to a form of the "peace congresses" to which Alfred Nobel refers as criteria for the Peace Prize in his 1895 will.'

VIDEO: EU debt crisis remains despite Nobel prize says Rehn

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

What a joke - its now lost all credibility.

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What a joke. This prize has become an international embarrassment.

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The EU is a parasite which is extremely skilled at claiming the credit for others' efforts. Who had to call upon the Americans/NATO to sort out the war in the Balkans ? Oh yes-the fearless EU! The fact that it has gained this award under false pretences and by a foul and unethical coup, will not trouble it in the least. For a construct that has stolen power from 27 countries, a mere matter of stealing a Nobel Peace Prize is a very minor affair. When will the DM get behind the British people and help free them from slavery?

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If the Euro-zone crisis is not sorted soon, what price peace within the EU ?

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The EU exists exactly to prevent people like YOU from plunging us into another war.

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Merkel did not have to pay Jagland. They are both members of the invisible European dictatorship (the Bilderberg Group amongst other secret societies) that has long had the dictatorship of Europe in their sights. The European Union was planned long before the First World War and we should remember that it is the same people / wealthy groups that paid for both of the World Wars (e.g. financing and building the massive German war machine) that are today behind the faceless and unwanted EU. Thorbjorn Jagland is one of a minority of Norwegians who want Norway to become a member of the EU. He is an open EU campaigner and even wrote a book in 1990 called My European Dream. This award proves that the EU has lost all respect for democracy and human rights, as Norwegians have voted not once but TWICE AGAINST becoming part of the EU. The fact that Thorbjorn Jagland is both the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee AND the current Secretary-General of the Council of Europe is ridiculous.

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What a bunch of sourpusses we have become! Are we taking our lead from the cynics of the BBC whose first port of call on hearing the news was Nigel Farage! Europe has had six decades of peace to contrast with the nightmare of two world wars. Well deserved prize get over it and see past your prejudice. - Tom , Birmingham, United Kingdom

Absolutely brilliant. So the BBC is anti-EU now is it? When even the BBC's own journalists are now admitting that it has a pro-EU agenda, that has to be one of the funniest things I have read here. Do you come to this planet very often? Oh, and peace in Europe is down to NATO and the fact that most European countries' populations won't let their politicians get away with starting European civil wars any more....if you open your eyes and look, at the animostiy the EU is building up all over Europe, politicians clearly need slapping again so they know who they work for. 'Makes this award all the more disgusting.

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ust a thought, like many others both my grandfathers visited Europe with a rifle over their shoulders, just over 20 years later my father visited Europe with a rifle over his shoulder. Now for nearly 70 years the people of these islands - me included - have visited Europe with only a camera over their shoulder.- Jim , Preston, 13/10/2012 11:11...............Sorry Jim, you are wrong? I like many served in Europe with a rifle over my shoulder during the Cold War up until 1990, then there was the war in the Former Yugoslavia. NATO kept the peace in Europe not the EU and as for protecting democracy in Europe, the EU is anti-democratic, we have witnessed this time and time again by its refusal to accept member states votes? France, Netherlands, Denmark and Rep of Ireland. If the vote is against the EU they ether ignore it or tell them to vote again. This country is being bleed to death by rules from the EU and the ECHR the people in this country and others have no say, is this democracy?

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Typical Euroarrogance to believe that the divisive and self serving EU organisation is responsible for 60 years of peace in Europe It just confirms the language of the EEC is "Eurine" One could argue that Stalin and Chairman Mao brought years of peace to the USSR and China.Other organisations such as NATO, from which France withdrew, have had far more influence than the shoddy Brussels bunch. The USA also had a major part to play in rebuilding the major economies of the EEC and keeping the fellow citizens of Ms Merkel and their allies from walking through the" power house" of Europe which now dictates its economy.

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@Tommy, Kernow. 'The war finished 45 the common market (the thing we were conned into started 57.)'. Strange. I thought that the European Communities Act dates from 1973.

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