The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2012 peace prize on Friday to the 27-nation European Union, lauding its role over six decades in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europes bloodiest wars, even as the Continent wrestles with economic strife that threatens its cohesion and future.
The award also seemed to illuminate competing visions of Europe as both historical unifier and meddlesome overlord, recalling deep strains within the bloc, primarily between Germany and other European nations over Berlins insistence on austerity to resolve the euro crisis, measures that have brought pain to Greece and Spain in particular.
Thorbjorn Jagland, the former Norwegian prime minister who is chairman of the panel awarding the prize, said there had been deep concern about Europes destiny as it faces the debt-driven woes that have placed the future of the single currency in jeopardy.
There is a great danger, he said in an interview in Oslo. We see already now an increase of extremism and nationalistic attitudes. There is a real danger that Europe will start disintegrating. Therefore, we should focus again on the fundamental aims of the organization.
Asked if the euro currency would survive, he replied: That I dont know. What I know is that if the euro fails, then the danger is that many other things will disintegrate as well, like the internal market and free borders. Then you will get nationalistic policies again. So it may set in motion a process which most Europeans would dislike.
inb4 armchair intellectuals "da nobel peace prize is a joke because *insert disagreement over past award here* herpderp"