Although the Norwegian Nobel Committee typically awards the Nobel Peace Prize to individuals who have gone to extraordinary lengths to promote peace in their community and around the world, this year it decided to award the prize to the European Union (E.U.).
The E.U. is an economic coalition of 27 member nations, most of whom share a common currency called the Euro. The first iterations of the E.U. were born in the 1950s out of the idea that close economic ties could help mend a devastated Europe after the Second World War.
"The euro is more than a currency because in the end it is foremost about the original idea, the idea of Europe as a community of peace and values," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Norway, where the prize is awarded, is a European country, but is not a member of the E.U. The Nobel Committee said they decided to honor the E.U. because of its efforts to advance peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.
While European leaders hailed the decision as a confirmation of the importance of the Union, others were more critical. Europe has struggled to deal with an influx of immigrants, and is currently facing an economic crisis that has triggered protests in some Eurozone nations.
"The Nobel Peace Prize Council Committee, and in fact the international community, are now sending a very important message to Europe, that the European Union is something very precious, that we should cherish it, for the good of Europeans and indeed for the good of all the world," - President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission.
1. What is the Nobel Peace Prize? Why is it given?
2. Who awards Nobel prizes?
3. What is the European Union?
1. Do you agree with the Nobel Committee's decision to award the Peace Prize to the E.U.? Why or why not?
2. Do you think that the E.U. has done a good job of ensuring peace in Europe? Why or why not?
3. Do you think this prize will affect the E.U. in any way? If so, how?