Oslo, Norway – As Nobel Peace prize winners go, the European Union might not have been everybody’s choice. However, the bloc has now officially accepted the prize at a ceremony held in Oslo’s City Hall.
Several European leaders were in attendance to see the award passed over in Norway’s capital, including German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso appeared on stage to accept the award together (above), with the prize granted for the stability and democracy brought to the continent since the Second World War finished.
However, previous Nobel Peace Prize winners have criticized the decision to give the award to the EU. 1984 winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the award for his campaign against South African apartheid, argued the European Union was an organization based on “military force,” and that such bodies should not be recognized.
Archbishop Tutu is not alone: other Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina and Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland also expressed opposition, with all pointing out the EU achieves security and peace through the use of military force.
Others have questioned the awarding of the prize as the continent is gripped in an economic and financial crisis, with violence and protests now a regular sight in different parts of Europe.
Sunday saw around 1,000 members of activist and human rights groups marching through Oslo in protest at the EU receiving the award.
As for the EU, it has promised to match the award’s prize of €1 million and provide €2 million to selected aid projects around the world.
This isn’t the first time the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a whole organization: in 1999, the prize went to Medecins Sans Frontieres. Recent individuals who have won the prize have included President Barack Obama in 2009 and detained Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010, a choice that infuriated China.