The EU's puzzling Nobel Peace Prize win: First reactions

At a moment when Europeans are at one another's throats, Norway steps in with an unexpected award to celebrate the continent's unity

EU flags fly at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. On Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union for its part in helping "to transform a once torn Europe f
(Image credit: AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)

Well, that was unexpected, say Walter Gibbs and Alan Cowell at The New York Times. Norway's Nobel judges just awarded the coveted Nobel Peace Prize to the squabbling bloc of nations making up the European Union, currently at the brink of mutiny as it deals with "the worst financial crisis in its history over the single euro currency." European bookmakers had U.S. nonviolence theorist Gene Sharp as the odds-on favorite to take home the Peace Prize, with Maggie Gobran, a Coptic Christian nun known as "Egypt's Mother Teresa," a close second. Other favorites for the prize included Russian human rights group Memorial, Bill Clinton, and various Arab Spring figures. But the EU won, explained committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland, in part as a reminder of the importance of European unity: "The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe."

Awarding the EU the Nobel Peace Prize now was an "extraordinary decision," fully deserving of the "immediate derision and ridicule" being heaped on Jagland's committee, says Matt Chorley at Britain's Daily Mail. I'm all for peace in Europe, but they could have picked a better time to celebrate EU unity than "just days after protestors burnt Nazi flags on the streets of Greece in protest of a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel."

The EU's Peace Prize "seems a bit strange, even to me," a big fan of the union, says Tom Chivers at Britain's The Telegraph. "Using the Nobel Peace Prize for cheap laughs has a long and proud tradition" — remember when Henry Kissinger won in 1973? — but between the recent selections of Jimmy Carter (2002), Barack Obama (2009), and now the EU, we should consider the distinct possibility that the Norwegians who chose the winners have "stopped worrying so much about whether the recipients are actually deserving, and instead decided simply to pick people who will annoy right-wingers."

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