On Friday, 12. October 2012, at 11.00 a.m. CET, Thorbjørn Jagland, the Nobel Committee president, announced the European Union (EU) as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2012 at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo. It was a unanimous decision. The EU was chosen out of a list of 231 candidates.
The European Union has, for over six decades, made great effort to the advancement of reconciliation and peace and the promotion of human rights and democracy in Europe.
The EU has played a stabilizing role in the region. It has transformed a region torn by war into a united region, a "continent of peace", Jagland said. The EU has rebuilt the region after the Second World war. It united France and Germany, and it expanded successfully since its creation to a union with 27 member states.
Thorbjørn Jagland also praised the EU's role in the Balkans for settling "Ethnically based national conflicts" and for advancing democracy and human rights in Turkey.
The Nobel prize committee focused on EU's historical role as a builder of peace and a promoter of human rights and democracy at a moment when the European Union is undergoing "grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest". Jagland said : "The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU's most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights." He said: "The main message is that we need to keep in mind what we have achieved on this continent, and not let the continent go into disintegration again." Thorbjørn Jagland warned that a collapse of the EU could lead to a resurgence of the "extremism and nationalism" that had led to so many "awful wars".
Not often a Peace Nobel Prize has been awarded to organisations. The last one who has been awarded one was Medecins Sans Frontieres, in 1999.
The decision of the Nobel Prize Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 to the EU received divided responses.
President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the Commission José Manuel Barroso regard it a "tremendous honour for the European Union to be awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize" they consider it "a Prize not just for the project and the institutions embodying a common interest, but for the 500 million citizens living in our Union."
On December 10, the anniversary of Swedish industrialist and prize creator Alfred Nobel's death, a ceremony will take place during which an official of the EU will receive the Nobel prize. The prize includes not only the well known gold medal prize but also a Nobel diploma and 1.2 million U.S. dollars