EU Wins Nobel Peace Prize

12 10 2012

The European Union has won the Nobel Peace prize. This was a great decision.

The EU has transformed most of Europe “from a continent of wars to a continent of peace,” Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said in announcing the award in Oslo.

The EU has done some amazing things, such as making a Franco-German war unthinkable and facilitating free mobility.

Some people have criticized this decision on the grounds that the EEC failed to prevent the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. The criteria for the Peace Prize don’t include perfection, just movement towards world peace. Carter got the prize even though the Camp David accord only covered Israel and Egypt, not the Middle East as a whole. Theodore Roosevelt got the prize for brokering an end to the Russo-Japanese War, even though China was a party to this agreement. So the Yugoslavia criticism doesn’t hold water, especially since Bosnia isn’t part of the EU. It’s pretty clear that EU institutions have advanced 2 of 3 the criteria specified in Nobel’s will: it has promoted “fraternity between nations” (think Erasmus students or the vast number of trucks from all over the EU you see on British roads). It has also caused a reduction in the size of many “standing armies” another goal that Nobel mentioned. There is no doubt that the EU mobility rights have contributed to the end of conscription in France and many other EU countries. Compared to the UN or Mercosur or Nafta.

The only thing that comes close to the EU’s record in promoting peace is the US constitution, which has a reasonably good (but imperfect) record in promoting peace among its constituent member units (which include the 50 states as well as the domestic dependent nations). A comparison of European history since 1957 with the state of Europe in Alfred Nobel’s lifetime indicates why the EU is a very good thing. The EU imposes some annoying rules on member countries, such as the ban on imperial units, but it is a tremendous net benefit both in economic and security terms.


The Eurosceptic newspapers in this country sometimes overlook this.


P.S. It’s ironic, however, that this prize was awarded by a committee in a European country that isn’t part of the EU.



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