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Continent of peace

In Oslo the Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of decades of work for peace and reconciliation in Europe.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande greet the assembled company together as Thorbjörn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee made special mention of Franco-German reconciliation. Special mention was made of the Franco-German friendship, one achievement of Europe's peace efforts Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, José Manuel Barroso, European Commission President and Herman Van Rompuy, European Council President, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on behalf of 500 million Europeans.

Numerous EU heads of state and government attended the ceremony, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It’s "incredibly encouraging" to win the Nobel Prize, said the Chancellor

The Chancellor declared that seeing the European Union accorded the Nobel Peace Prize is "incredibly encouraging". "I believe that this is now the perfect time to think about what our predecessors put in place: from Konrad Adenauer to Helmut Kohl, from Robert Schuman to Jean Monnet and many many others. It is, though, above all a call on all those who are today actively involved in politics not to let up in their efforts," declared Angela Merkel.

The Nobel Committee has expressed "confidence combined with expectations" in the European Union, she added. The goal must be now for 500 million Europeans to hold together, to cooperate more closely, and most importantly to defend Europe’s common values, declared the Chancellor.

Her vision of Europe is not that of a United States of Europe, she said. "Everybody automatically thinks of the United States of America when they hear that. But I do think we need more that is shared, that is common, and that we must cooperate even more closely. Especially in the euro zone, where we have a strong currency. If we are not similarly competitive, similarly strong within the euro zone, it will be very difficult to share a single currency," said Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Peace is not automatic

In his speech, Thorbjørn Jagland,  Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said that Europe has moved from a continent of war to become a continent of peace. That is by no means automatic, and it is something that Europeans have to continue to fight for. The process of reconciliation began in Western Europe and then, with the fall of the Berlin Wall embraced Central and Eastern Europe. It has now spread as far as the Balkans.

In his address Thorbjørn Jagland made special mention of Franco-German friendship, which he termed a special achievement of European peace efforts. To rousing applause he thanked Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President François Hollande for attending the ceremony.

"I am proud to be a European," declares Herman van Rompuy

The key message of the speech of Herman Van Rompuy was the philosophy of reconciliation between the peoples of Europe. Europe will, however, be expected to secure peace in future too, underscored the European Council President. The European Union has put an end to the age of wars in Europe and established a culture of peaceful conflict resolution.

In view of the urgent problems facing us today, he said, the promise of peace is no longer enough to make the European Union attractive. Europe is truly being put to the test at present.

We must create growth and jobs. "We must once again take charge of our own fate," said Herman Van Rompuy. In German, English and French he closed with the affirmation, "I am proud to be a European".

The euro – a symbol of unity

Thanking the Nobel Committee, José Manuel Barroso described the euro as the strongest symbol of unity within the Union. "Today one of the most visible symbols of our unity can be found in everybody’s hands," said the European Commission President. "It is the euro, the currency of the European Union. We will defend it."


Dec 11, 2012