Nobel Peace Prize 2012: “What next? An Oscar for Van Rompuy…”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has done it again…  This time they have decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 is to be awarded to the European Union (EU).  *shakes head*

As a sceptical Ambrose Evans-Pritchard notes at the Telegraph blog

The EU’s high priests draw on a caricature version of history that must be challenged. The post-war national democracies – nurtured by the Marshall Plan, Nato, and benign American influence, nota bene – are not the problem, they are the solution. They have been the foundation of Europe’s peaceful order for 60 years, even if some are not yet fully anchored and secured.

Yes, you can argue that the prospect of EU accession helped Greece, Spain, and Portugal move to democracy, with eastern Europe following. But it is a specious argument. Most of Latin America has evolved towards democracy over the same period, and large parts of Africa and Asia too. It is a global shift.

The central threat to this once happy state of affairs in Europe comes from EU aggrandisement itself as it builds structures beyond parliamentary control. We will find out soon enough whether Euroland really will cross the Rubicon to fiscal union to stop the euro breaking apart, and in doing so usurp the tax and spending powers of these parliaments altogether, that is to say whether EMU leaders are really willing to rip the heart out of democracy.

The Nobel committee likes to deploy prizes to push its agenda and encourage what it believes to [be] benign behaviour. In this case the purpose is to press North Europe to stand full square behind the Project.

“We want to focus on what has been achieved in Europe in terms of peace and reconciliation,” says the Committee’s Thorbjørn Jagland.  “It is a message to Europe to secure what they have achieved and not let the continent go into disintegration again because it means the emergence of extremism and nationalism.”

We should not doubt his good intentions. We may however, abominate his judgment.

Whilst Michael White has “a more agnostic (and healthy) attitude” at the Guardian Politics blog

The outcome is pressure to create a trans-eurozone banking union and – who knows – an EU finance ministry with real teeth, and to do so at breakneck speed. The austerity imposed on Greece and other stricken states is creating a backlash in the name of democratic accountability, the resurgence of the very nationalism the EU was created back in 1957 to quell for ever.

It looks ugly and could easily become uglier. If it is averted it will be via a German-dominated core Europe, the kind of outcome which Britain has struggled for centuries – against France, Spain, Russia and Germany itself – to prevent. The future is clouded. Yet the word from Oslo – and from Brussels – is that another Franco-German war is unthinkable. Let us fervently hope they are all right.

But nothing is unthinkable.

And from the BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt

But the Nobel committee’s decision will puzzle many. Despite the EU’s successes, it failed in the Balkans. It lacked the will and determination to intervene and save lives. The massacre at Srebrenica happened in Europe’s backyard.

And the prize comes at a moment of violence and tension on the streets of many European capitals as a young generation endures years of hardship and high unemployment. For them the European dream has not delivered.

It should not be forgotten that the committee in Oslo awarded US President Barack Obama the peace prize when he had few achievements to his name. It was a prize offered more in hope.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the prize was an inspiration. She said it was a “wonderful decision” and said it would inspire her personally to press ahead with closer integration.

That, of course, raises an intriguing question. Will “ever closer union” deliver more democracy and peace or will it sow tension and division?