Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: A Prize of Peace

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: A Prize of Peace

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: A prize of peace

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An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published Oct. 16:

On Friday the Nobel Foundation took the unprecedented move of awarding the Noble Peace Prize to the European Union.

Between 1901 and 2011, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to 101 individuals and 20 organizations, but never to a country or geopolitical entity.

The closest the prize selection committee had come previously was the 2001 prize awarded to the United Nations as a whole. Previously several UN bodies, including UNICEF, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and UN peacekeepers, had received the prize.

While the UN is a diplomatic body - a forum for nations to meet and work together - the E.U. verges on being a super-state.

It is a vast empire of different ethnicities, languages and governments assembled, not by war, but by peace and mutual interest.

Seventeen of the E.U.'s 27 member countries share the same currency and all members must meet the so-called Copenhagen criteria: a democratic government, free market economy and rule of law.

All 27 members are required to uphold the E.U.'s Charter of Fundamental Rights, which enshrines citizens' rights in much the same way as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does here.

"The union and its forerunners have, for over six decades, contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe," the Nobel committee said in a statement announcing the award.

"The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace."

In case you think the decision is just a case of Europeans patting themselves on the back, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is selected by the Norwegian Noble Committee - a five-member group appointed by the Norwegian government. Norway is not an E.U. member state, so there is no home-team bias in the decision.

In fact, Norway has twice voted against joining the E.U. and the decision to award the prize to the European Union has drawn criticism from Norwegian lawmakers.

In Spain and Greece, the decision has been seen as a slap in the face by those who oppose the strict austerity measures the E. …

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