On Monday, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in transforming a European “continent of war” into a “continent of peace”, in the words of Nobel committee president Thorbjørn Jagland. The European commission president, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, jointly collected the prize in the name of the Union.
Not all heads of state were present at the ceremony. The leaders of the United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Slovakia were among those conspicuous in their absence. For most commentators, their decision not to attend reflects a growing euroscepticism in some member states.
The overwhelming consensus here in Germany is, however, that this prize is fully merited, and that the growing tension in Europe over the state of the economy does not fundamentally undermine the vast progress that has been made. The centre-left Süddeutsche Zeitung called this prize “well-deserved and necessary”, while the centre-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung hoped that this historic decision would encourage the European states to remain united in these times of crisis.