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Why the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 goes to EU
|by Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee|
The Norwegian Nobel Committee was criticized severely for selecting President Obama as the recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. The argument was that the Nobel Committee at that time strayed from the award’s original ideals and succumbed to the realm of political theater.
The same objection is raised when the Norwegian Nobel Committee made in the same category this year’s choice of European Union as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. But it is a great honour for the 500 million citizens of Europe and more than that there are various justifications in favour of the EU which really deserves the Nobel Peace Prize 2012. It is very clear to everyone why the European Union emerged as the viable competitor in receiving the prize even over Japan.
The first point that goes to the favour of EU is that it contributed to the remarkable 70-year period of peace in Western Europe. No Western European country has gone to war with another since World War II, and the Balkans wars were the only wars on the continent as a whole in that period. There’s good reason to think the E.U. played a key role in securing peace in Europe in the 1990s.
The award shows that even in tense, difficult times, the European Union remains an inspiration for countries and people all over the world. The E.U. played a role in arbitrating border disputes in a nonviolent manner. The union’s membership requirements helped push former Soviet satellites and possessions toward democracy. It made the continent — especially poor countries — richer. And that stopped war. This happened through the trade and commerce.
Today the European common currency is on the verge of collapse and the need for such currency is no longer strong. Europe is now a rich democratic region and does no longer tend to be warzones. In many ways Europe is as rich as it is because of the E.U. Starting with the European Coal and Steel Community, and later, the European Economic Community, the process of European integration dramatically reduced tariffs and other trade barriers between countries. Regional integration like that can spur growth. E.U. member states would be one fifth lower without European integration that trade between states greatly reduces the chance of war.
European integration has greatly increased per-capita income and trade between member states, and consequently it has also reduced the chance of war. The likelihood of conflict between democracies is still much lower than between democracies and non-democracies or between dictatorships.
Democracies and dictatorships fight a lot, and dictatorships fight each other all the time, but it is hard to single out a case of a democracy fighting another democracy. The E.U. promotes democracy to reduce the probability of conflict, at least among its members. There is no denying that the democratic process is well enough established to credit the European Union. Institutions promoting integration like the E.U. create spillover effects that in turn lead to yet more integration and so on.
The initial success of the European Coal and Steel Community encouraged economic integration in other areas, leading eventually to the European Economic Community. European integration got a momentum of its own, so trade and political integration grows. There is a possibility of civil war within such a state, but if successful, it would effectively eliminate the possibility of war in Europe, just as the successful integration of the United States after the Civil War has lead to 150 years of peace within the country. Europeans who claim a “strong national identity” have started to include being European as part of their national identity, in addition to being French, German and Italian. The E.U. has wreaked havoc in global financial markets by being bureaucratic and plodding in managing the crisis.
The award honored the struggle in Europe to not only hold the union together in the wake of the debt crisis, but also to further its goal of deeper integration. By selecting the E.U., the Nobel Committee, however, appeared to be sending a message that in its darkest hour in decades, Europe should take stock in a major achievement: safeguarding peace and security and forging a common future for a continent saddled with a bloody history of conflict.
There are certain complications in selecting the vast body for the prize. It is really difficult to decide which leader will come and receive the estimated $1.5 million award. Another grave reason for resentment is the economic dominance of the region by the E.U.’s core nations, Germany and France. We cannot ignore that the borders have been erased around the region and trade has flowed freely and this justified the anxiety that is growing in some of the European countries over unfettered immigration as well.
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10/16/2012 08:14 AM
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