Nobel Peace Prize for the EU
Yesterday's big news was that this year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the EU
. Unsurprisingly, everyone thinks this is totally ridiculous. After all, the EU is (i) not a person, (ii) not terribly popular at the moment, and (iii) not a peacekeeping organisation. "What has the EU ever done to promote peace?", the masses cry. "There hasn't even been
a war inside the EU since it began!"
The EU has never sent troops to France and Germany to keep the peace because it doesn't need to
. The whole setup is designed to make it impossible for member states to even contemplate going to war with each other. It started in 1951 with the European Coal and Steel Community, the idea being that if France and Germany shared their coal and steel, they would stop fighting each other over coal and steel. Then, with the economic union, we had a situation where different components of a vehicle were made in different countries, meaning that if those countries fought, they'd suddenly find themselves very short of tanks and planes.
The result? No wars inside the ECSC/EC/EU. Ever. Now think about how unlikely that must have sounded in 1945, given the constant tension between France and Germany that had led to the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, World War I in 1914, and World War II in 1939. And given how many times the British have fought the French. The EU has brought about an incredible period of peace not by doing
, but simply by being
We've got so used to this that we don't see it any more. After all, "France and Germany still not at war after 67 years" isn't exciting enough to make the news. But it's pretty impressive. What has
been in the news recently is "European single currency goes down the toilet". This is a very good reason for not awarding the EU a Nobel Prize for Economics. Which isn't what happened.
What about the idea of giving the prize to a large organisation rather than a person? The Nobel Peace Laureates we all remember are people like Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and Aung San Suu Kyi. But if Médecins Sans Frontières can win it (and I don't think many people could object to that), why not the EU? The UN (or a subdivision thereof) has won the prize eight times
. So a win for the EU really shouldn't be that surprising.
Legal nerds (like myself) will be wondering whether there was anything in Alfred Nobel's Will about the eligibility of organisations for his prizes. I'll just let you read the text and come to your own conclusions.
Öfver hela min återstående realiserbara förmögenhet förfogas på följande sätt: kapitalet, af utredningsmännen realiserade till säkra värdepapper, skall utgöra en fond, hvars ränta årligen utdelas som prisbelöning åt dem, som under det förlupne året hafva gjort menskligheten den största nytta. Räntan delas i fem lika delar som tillfalla: en del den som inom fysikens område har gjort den vigtigaste upptäckt eller uppfinning; en del den som har gjort den vigtigaste kemiska upptäck eller förbättring; en del den som har gjort den vigtigaste upptäckt inom fysiologiens eller medicinens domän; en del den som inom litteraturen har producerat det utmärktaste i idealisk rigtning; och en del åt den som har verkat mest eller best för folkens förbrödrande och afskaffande eller minskning af stående armeer samt bildande och spridande af fredskongresser.
Det är min uttryckliga vilja att vid prisutdelningarne intet afseende fästes vid någon slags nationalitetstillhörighet sålunda att den värdigaste erhåller priset, antingen han är Skandinav eller ej.
Perhaps a more vexing question is what the EU will actually do with the 10,000,000 kronor prize money. Somehow I doubt they'll send all of the EU's 500m inhabitants a cheque for 2 öre each, and it won't go very far towards helping Greece out of debt. My bet is that they'll build a monument to the Pax Europaea
in Brussels, which will end up costing ten times the amount of the prize money. If that happens, that's when I'll join the critics.