Across six decades, the European Union has stressed repeatedly on the importance of democracy and human rights. In the process, it set up a system that offered great humanitarian, and therefore popular, benefits to nations willing to join it. In return, it asked for the nations to stop warring, start talking, and get voting.
Today, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 for its continent-wide efforts.
At the end of the Second World War, Europe’s largest economies emerged greatly diminished. The divides between the ruling and the ruled, between the rich and the poor, and between the war-monger and the negotiator were at their most gaping. Germany and France were the most wounded.
Today, conflict between Germany and France is unthinkable. They reside at the heart of the European Union, in mind and in body, and are largely responsible for maintaining order in the region. Their commitment to the cause of peace is vital to Europe’s commitment to the cause of peace. And because they have held on for so long, the smaller Central European nations and the Balkan states are now eyeing prosperity.
The Nobel Peace Prize, at the same time, comes at a crucial juncture. A grave economic crisis is prevalent across the region. Social inequality, as a result, is on the rise. Austerity measures are the order of the day, and industrial slowdown the mantra on the lips of many – both the employed and the jobless, in fact.
The Prize reaffirms the Union’s decision to abide by peace and unity, by its decision to pursue a common justice for all violators, by its assumption of democracy as the best mode of governance. However, this is also a time that has questioned the validity of a unified government that has to work with significantly different rates of growth and policy-perspectives from region to region.
These are not decisions that are influenced by any prize.
Essentially, the Nobel Prize does not address the seeming invalidity of the Union based on social issues and economic equality, but awards it only in recognition of historical work, work that was humanitarian in a bold break from tradition. What the Prize should have done is specified the Union’s particular roles instead of seemingly reaffirming the Union’s decision to stay united and rule united today.
Thus, only time will tell. Until then, one of the most significant developments of the 21st century will have been the bringing of peace to Europe. For this, the European Union deserves all consideration and congratulations.