Is Norway Even in the European Union?

The Norwegian Parliament (Wikimedia Commons)
The Norwegian Parliament (Wikimedia Commons)
The Norwegian Parliament (Wikimedia Commons)

The committee [1] stated that the EU and its “forerunners” have contributed to “peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe” over the past six decades.  The Nobel panel cites Europe’s impressive work at integration since World War II; the introduction of democracy in Greece, Spain, and Portugal; the end of much of the division between the East and the West during the Cold War; and the on-going process of stabilization in Balkans as reasons for awarding it this honor.

It is true that Europe has become more integrated since WWII and there have been no wars on the European continent since then.  However, Mats Persson (Open Europe) reminds us that “the first people to be part of the big epic moments in the European reconciliation were national politicians, not so much people in European institutions” [2].

And Europe did bring democracy to Greece, Spain, and Portugal as a condition of their entrance into the EU.  But, democracy itself should not be the criteria for entrance.  The Eurozone is still suffering for the decision to ignore economic deficiencies of those countries upon entry to the EU.  The eurozone crisis drags on due to the ill-advised acceptance of Greece, Spain, and Portugal into the EU.

The assertion that the EU stopped the Soviets from invading Western Europe during the Cold War, which is something many of those who support the award are arguing, is absolutely ridiculous.  According to Nigel Farage, MEP and leader of UKIP, “the Cold War was about NATO and the nuclear deterrent.”  It had “absolutely nothing” to do with the EU, which didn’t actually exist until 1992 (after the official end of the Cold War).  [2]

While the EU has helped stabilize Eastern Europe to a certain degree, we cannot forget that the massacre at Srebrenica [3] occurred on Europe’s watch and that the Balkans is still very unstable.  Democracy does not necessarily mean stability.  Instability and violence is right in Europe’s backyard; and they have yet to do something about it.

The fact is that the eurozone crisis has made Europe more divided and fragile than it has for decades.  Recently, Chancellor Merkel was greeted in Greece by protestors dressed as Nazis.  That does not sound like behavior befitting an international organization that just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

It is also worth noting that the committed in Oslo awarded President Barack Obama the peace prize when he had very few achievements to his name.  It seems to me that the Nobel committee has started awarding these prizes as an endorsement for those individuals and organizations that it approves of or that it believes will likely one day do something to warrant this prize. Thomas Kirchner in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung warns that the Nobel committee “must be careful if it wants its decisions to be taken seriously for much longer” [4].  And Dutch eurosceptic Geert Wilders queries, “What next?  An Oscar for van Rompuy?”

In my opinion, the Nobel committee made this award a little hastily.  There have to be other people and/or organizations in this world more deserving of this prize than the EU.  I believe the Nobel Peace Prize should be earned before it is awarded.  But, hey, maybe the Nobel committee was hoping that this million-dollar prize could be used to bail out the eurozone.