Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Nobel Peace Prize for the EU?

by Maximilian Biegler

On October 12 it was announced that the European Union will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.  The decision was criticized from many sites all over the world; The Bangkok Post stated that the “EU award diminishes [the, M.B.] Peace Prize”. An Author in the Long Island Newsday headlined his comment, ”Worst. Nobel Prize. Ever.” Iain Martin of the British Telegraph argued that the awarding is “beyond parody, like knighting Fred Goodwin in the middle of a mad boom” and the Daily Mail‘s headline was “It's got a collapsing currency and rioting on the streets but the European Union wins the Nobel PEACE Prize”.

But why was the EU actually awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? On the official website of the price, the committee explains why they bestowed it to the EU: "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."

If this is not a reason for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize, I do not know who should be awarded this prize.

Some days ago I attended a discussion by the German and French consuls generals. Both spoke very nicely about each other, calling the opposite part “my colleague” and emphasized the meaning of working together in a united Europe. What is so special about it? It is not special, it is amazing. It is the reason why the European Union deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Not so long ago, both countries were what is in German called “Erbfeinde” or translated “arch enemies”. There have been countless martial conflicts between the two states in the past, which have cost thousands of lives.

To better understand what I mean and to illustrate the “Erbfeindschaft” look at the following pictures:

These frightful pictures were taken at the battle of Verdun in 1916. It was one of the main battles of WWI between Germany and France. 167,000 French soldiers and 150,000 German soldiers died alone in this battle.
These images show the German-French war in 1870 and 1871. 44,781 French and 138,871 German soldiers were killed in this war.

WWII: The last war between Germany and France. The pictures show the occupation of Paris by Nazi-Germany.

To my mind, the main success of the European Union was to end this long-lasting enemyship. One main figure was the French foreign minister Schumann who had the revolutionary plan to create a common authority for the German and French coal and steel production, which other countries could join if they want to: The European Coal and Steel Community, which was created in 1951 and is commonly seen as the  ancestor organization of the European Union. 

Its goal was “to strengthen Franco-German solidarity, banish the spectre of war and open the way to European integration.”

I think this goal was achieved due the further development of the European Integration in form of the EU and to me it seems worth awarding this incredible peace project.

But why was the award given right now, when there are these huge problems in the EU? It should, to my mind, remind the EU of its original purpose. The member countries should, like in a marriage, stay together in solidarity in bad times and never let these old time rise again.

Maximilian Biegler is a graduate student of Political Science at the University of Vienna. Currently he is a visiting student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He interned at the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, at the Austrian Parliamentary Administration and in the EU-Coordination Division of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Economy. 

Photo credits:
1.  European Union, 2013.
2. (c) 2012 Rafa Sañudo Accessed November 8, 2012.
3. "Verdun", Accessed November 5, 2012.
4-8. Accessed November 5, 2012.
9. Accessed November 7, 2012
10. Battle of Mars-la-tour [The War], From "Canadian Illustrated News" Date: 19 November, 1870 , Pagination: vol.II , no. 21 , 336, Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71. Accessed from on November 7, 2012
11. Accessed November 7, 2012
12. Accessed on November 8, 2012.
13. Accessed on November 8, 2012.
14. Accessed on November 8, 2012.
15. "Single stamp from Block 4 mark." First Day of Issue / Inception: 19 April 1968. Accessed from on November 8, 2012.


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