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European Union Nobel Peace Prize, Undeserved

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the European Union with the Nobel Peace Prize of 2012 on Oct. 12. The Committee gave the award “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,” according to the Nobel Prize website. The European Union is now on the award list with Amnesty International, a non-profit organization that protects human rights, and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a non-partisan federation of medical groups from 62 countries with a common bond to provide nuclear peace. Even if the EU has been in the worst financial crisis in its entire history, this union apparently has brought more peace into the world than these groups or any other person or organization this past year.

The European Union was created after World War II, to create interdependence with the economy that would prevent further conflict, according to the European Union website. The Union started with six countries in 1952 and has since grown to 27, with other countries still awaiting entrance into the union. While the establishment of keeping peace between European countries is an award-winning achievement, especially after the bloodshed of World War II, the Nobel Prize Committee has had multiple years to recognize the European Union of their peace treaties and provide the union an award when it did not have vital economic issues to solve as it does now. While last year was the 60th year since the Treaty of Paris, which brought peace between France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, it is not enough to shadow the enormous economic crisis that is currently engulfing the European Union.

In a previous article, I discussed the financial crises in Spain and Greece, the two economies that are members of the Eurozone and the European Union who are currently on the brink of default. I stated that Spain and Greece’s possible default will result in widespread consequences across Europe. According to the Wall Street Journal, Spain is under pressure from Eurozone leaders to leave the euro, while the European Union is currently attempting to give Spain a bail-out option in an effort to keep their economy together.

The European Union and the Eurozone are in a huge mess, and while it will not be fixed overnight, no plan that has been released to find stability in Spain and Greece seem to be favorable by either citizens or world leaders alike. As reported by Euronews, Greece will continue its plan to have massive budget costs. Considering when the plan was released back in late September and caused a protest of 50,000 people on Sept. 28, it can be expected that the satisfactory rate of Greece’s government will decline even more.

The European debt crisis is causing backlash on the Nobel Prize Committee’s decision on the award. Since 2008, the EU and Eurozone have been under a huge financial crisis, and countries are borrowing too much money and are about to default, according to BBC. Paul De Grauwe, an economist with the London School of Economics, told the Associated Press, “If I were living in Portugal or Spain or Greece, I would be upset about it: They are giving this prize to these people in Brussels, and they are the source of my misery.”
While not all countries are in the same crisis as Spain or Greece, these countries are intertwined under the euro. If any of these countries default it will result in the drop of the Euro, which will also affect the U.S. economy. The EU is filled with debt and its leaders do not know how to solve the problem. They may have solved peace a long time ago, but they have other matters on their hands now and do not need a reward for one issue while they cannot fix another.

This is not the first controversy of the Nobel Peace Prize.  The Nobel Prize Committee was also under speculation when Barack Obama won the same award. As stated by the Nobel Prize website, Obama won the prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Obama was not even in office for one year when he got the prize, while other presidents including Jimmy Carter and Theodore Roosevelt did not earn theirs until later in office or many years after their term ended. These issues started to cloud the image of the Nobel Peace Prize and once again the committee has returned into the same controversial light.

It baffles me that the EU was actually given this prestigious award. Alfred Nobel, the creator of the Nobel Prize awards, stated that that the peace prize would be given to “…the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses…,” according to the Nobel Prize website. While I cannot argue that the European Union did establish peace after one of the most devastating wars in human history, the European Union’s economy cannot currently stand on its own two feet and thus doesn’t deserve this prize.

While I do believe the prize will uplift the spirits of the European Union, the committee had another 230 nominations to choose from, according to CNN. A favorite for the award this year from the same report was Gene Sharp, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and published author, who has promoted nonviolent acts of how to overthrow a dictatorship and establish democracy. Sharp is working on solving issues that are affecting multiple countries like Libya and Syria, who are currently in civil wars over long dictator reigns.

The European Union has been in effect for over 60 years and has established peace between multiple countries in Europe. However, the timing of the prize for these efforts is off. It is nothing more than a confidence booster for the EU right now, which is not the purpose of the award. There were other deserving nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. For the EU, the prize is too little, too late.

Sarah Garrity can be reached at sarah.garrity@spartans.ut.edu

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