European Union leaders accept Nobel Peace Prize in Norway amid criticism from past leaders


Thorbjorn Jagland Chairman of the Nobel committee, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso of Portugal, EU President Herman Van Rompuy of Belgium, European Parliament President Martin Schulz of Germany, Kaci Kullmann of Norway, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn of Norway, Berit Reiss-Andersen of Norway, Gunnar Stalsett of Norway and Geir Lundestad of Norway at The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony at Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2012 in Oslo, Norway.


Nigel Waldron

European Union leaders accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway on Monday for their efforts in promoting peace and human rights and in the face of criticism.

About 20 European government leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Premier Mario Monti, attended the ceremony at Oslo's City Hall, the Associated Press reported

The head of the Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, hailed the EU for bringing peace after centuries of war, according to the Wall Street Journal saying:

"We know from the interwar years that this is what can happen when ordinary people pay the bills for a financial crisis triggered by others. But the solution now as then is not for the countries to act on their own at the expense of others." 

However, past winners have called the decision to award the EU unjustified.

The Gulf Daily News cited 1984 winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu as saying that it was wrong to recognize an organization based on "military force." 

Tutu was joined by Misread Maguire of Northern Ireland and Adolfo Perez Esquire from Argentina in demanding that the prize money of $1.2 million not be paid this year, saying that the bloc contradicts the values associated with the prize, the AP wrote. 

Others pointed out that the bloc was mired in economic and financial crisis and therefore undeserving.

The News also noted that David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister whose relationship with the EU is troubled, did not attend.

And Amnesty International said that EU leaders should not "bask in the glow of the prize," with xenophobia and intolerance now on the rise across the 27-nation bloc.

Meanwhile, Norway itself has twice rejected joining the EU.

The New York Times cited Herman Van Romp, president of the European Council, as saying in his acceptance speech that unemployment — now at more than 25 percent in Greece and Spain — and poor economic growth are "putting the political bonds of our union to the test"

"If I can borrow the words of Abraham Lincoln at the time of another continental test, what is being assessed today is whether that union, or any union so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."

More from Global Post: European Union leaders in Norway to receive Nobel Peace Prize