On Monday December 10, the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament President Martin Schulz will represent the EU and receive the Nobel Prize in Olso. As discussed in a previous piece, the Peace Prize came as a surprise, but also marked an important turning point in the story of European integration. Yes, the EU is in crisis; yes, nationalism is on the rise; yes, poverty rates among European youths are alarming; but one should as well recognize that the European Union has been a fantastic engine for peace and stability since World War II. The critics, which have been very vocal throughout the world, need to reflect on the EU contribution to regional and world peace. As any political entity, the EU is far from perfect and in some instance ineffective; part of the inefficiencies come from its design by EU Member States and the intergovernmental type of governance in key areas.
Most of the EU Member States will be present at the ceremony. Most, because it has been confirmed that neither “the Czech president Václav Klaus nor PM Petr Nečas will attend the Nobel ceremony in Oslo on December 10.” British Prime Minister, David Cameron, will not be present at the ceremony sending the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to Oslo. As presented in an article in the Guardian, “Cameron indicated his unease at the prize, awarded as the EU grapples with the eurozone crisis, when he said that NATO had also helped keep the peace in Europe. Speaking after an EU summit in October, he said: “I think three of the possible five European presidents are going to Oslo … I personally won’t be going but I am sure there will be enough people to collect the prize.” David Cameron has been clearly playing along the lines of his party and he is slowly but surely retracting British contribution to the European integration process. These absences were announced despite the fact that “last month’s EU summit the European Council made clear to the leaders of all 27 EU countries that they would be welcome to attend, said the Brussels diplomat, who requested anonymity.” The non-presence of any representation from a Member States would certainly have a negative image. These European leaders boycotting the ceremony or even complaining about the prize are simply showing a lack of understanding of European history. Maybe it should be time to address these countries — namely the U.K. and Czech Republic — and underline the fact that they are free to leave the Union. Disagreement and opposition to certain policies or even certain direction of the integration of the Union are absolutely necessary to vitality of the debate and the future of the Union; however, once a Member State becomes so anti-Europe and is simply unwilling to cooperate and contribute to the unity of the Union, it should be time from it to leave. The U.K. under David Cameron has not shown any types of commitment to the European agenda and has been calling for leaving the Union. Maybe it should be time for the UK to draft a referendum and ask British citizens this simple question: Should the U.K. remain a EU Member State? Yes or No.
But what about the prize money? The European institutions – EEAS and Commission – have announced in a press release on November 14, 2012 that
Nobel Peace prize money to be given to projects that support children affected by war and conflicts.
The European Commission has today formally accepted the Nobel Peace prize money on behalf of the European Union and indicated that it intends to allocate the prize money to children affected by war and conflicts across the world.
President Barroso said,…”The Nobel Peace Prize stands for reconciliation throughout the world. The Prize money should benefit the first hope for the future, but also the first victims of present and past conflicts: children”.
Following agreement between President Barroso and Presidents Van Rompuy and Schulz, the Commission intends to allocate the Nobel Peace Prize money for “EU Nobel Prize Children’s Projects”. These should be for the benefit of children in war and conflict zones. Since children are the future of any society and at the same time among the most vulnerable, the peace dividend the European Union is receiving should be “invested” in those children who are the victims of violent conflict.
The Commission has done a great work in promoting and fostering the interest around the prize. It has designed a webpage explaining the meaning behind the prize. The Council has also posted a short video on the history of the Union:
The second interesting fact is the creation and organization of a contest asking young Europeans – in the form of a drawing for the 8-12 years old and essay for the 13-24 years old – on the following topic: what does peace in Europe mean to you? The winners will accompany EU leaders to Oslo – four youths have already been chosen. Such contest may sound naive, but in fact touches on the essential question of war and peace. Younger generations of Europeans have never directly experienced war and its consequences. Fostering debate and thinking on the question of war and peace permits to touch directly these younger generations and bring them closer to the sense of a European village.
Here are some of my favorite drawings and writing:
Winner group 1: Ana Fanlo Vicente, 12, from Spain
Silver medal in category 1 — Ada Maria Ciontu, 8, from Romania. Congratulations!
Ilona from Poland, our winner in category 3 (18-24 years old)
The EU will be shining and being celebrated for an evening in these turmoil times; let’s put politics and ideology aside and enjoy all together this moment of celebration of our common project.
Here are some tips in order to follow the ceremony on December 10: