Mother Teresa. Lech Walesa. Desmond Tutu. Mikhail Gorbachev. Herman van Rompuy...? Europe wins the Nobel Peace Prize

The EU was awarded the prize for its role in transforming a European 'continent of war' into a 'continent of peace'

The 27-nation European Union has been urged to “move forward” to overcome the financial turmoil threatening its future as three EU leaders accepted the Nobel peace prize at a ceremony in Oslo which paid tribute to the continent’s achievement of lasting peace.

“What this continent has achieved is truly fantastic, from being a continent of war to becoming a continent of peace. In this process the European Union has figured most prominently.  It therefore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee which awards the annual peace prize. But the decision to hand the prestigious prize to the EU at a time when its very existence has seemed under threat as a result of the Eurozone crisis was controversial, including in Norway which is not an EU member and unlikely to join. David Cameron stayed away and decided to send the pro-Europe Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to Oslo. Former peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu has said the EU is unworthy of the award.

“Europe needs to move forward. Safeguard what has been gained. And improve what has been created, enabling us to solve the problems threatening the European community today. This is the only way to solve the problems created by the financial crisis, to everyone’s benefit,” said the pro-EU Mr Jagland, warning against a return to “yesterday’s traps” of nationalism and protectionism.

French President François Hollande and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, were applauded when they stood up together, holding hands. Mr Jagland noted that “the reconciliation between Germany and France is probably the most dramatic example in history to show that war and conflict can be turned so rapidly into peace and cooperation. ”

The prize was accepted on behalf of Europe’s 500 million citizens by EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Parliament president Martin Schulz, who stepped onto the platform to applause from the assembled EU leaders and officials at Oslo City Hall. The prize consists of a diploma, a gold medal, and a document confirming the prize money of roughly €1m (£800k). The EU will match the prize money to make a total €2m to be spent on humanitarian projects for children who are the victims of conflict.

In their speeches, the European leaders recognised the difficulties facing the EU. Mr Van Rompuy, a Belgian, said: “It is natural to see a hardening of hearts, the narrowing of interests, even the return of long-forgotten fault-lines and stereotypes,” he said. “The test Europe is currently facing is real.” He also acknowledged in his lecture that “parents struggling to make ends meet, workers recently laid off, students who fear that, however hard they try, they won’t get their first job: when they think about Europe, peace is not the first thing that comes to mind.” The reconciliation achieved by Europe was the motivating factor for the Committee to award the prize to the EU in line with the instructions contained in Alfred Nobel’s will.

Mr Van Rompuy went on to evoke the “golden rule” of Jean Monnet, one of the EU founders, saying that “it’s better to fight around the table than on a battlefield.”

President Barroso said the award “shows that in these difficult times the European Union remains a force of inspiration for countries and people all over the world and that our global community needs a strong European Union,” he said.

Asked by a BBC World interviewer whether the EU would hand back the prize if Greece abandons the euro, Mr Barroso said “No, not at all – because it was awarded for peace.” He also noted that the prize was an “encouragement” to the EU, “and we take that encouragement very seriously.”

Mother Teresa

Devoted her life to helping the poor. In 1950, she established the Missionaries of Charity. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

Lech Walesa

The founder of Solidarity, the trade union that helped to bring an end to Soviet rule in Poland, he became the President in 1990.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

One of the most vocal opponents of Apartheid in South Africa, Desmond Tutu became the face of opposition to minority-rule.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Urged by Ronald Reagan to ‘tear down that wall’, he did just that. His actions paved the way for democracy in Eastern Europe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power