The decision last Friday to award the Nobel peace prize to the European Union sparked an exchange of fire – strictly metaphorical, of course – between the newspapers.
A selection of editorial excerpts:
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich
The EU plays no significant role in the search for peace in the world, and things will stay that way for some time yet. We didn’t have to wait for the bitter experiences of the Euro crisis to grasp that Europeans do not stick together in the decisive moments and are more attached to their national undershirt than their European petticoat.
El Pais, Madrid
The Nobel Prize is a boost to morale and should help to overcome reticence at a national level which is preventing a determined advance toward a Monetary Union effectively accompanied by fiscal, banking, economic and, of course, political ties. It is imperative to understand that failure of the Monetary Union could lead to all the hard-fought gains of the past six decades being undone, giving free rein to the demons of Europe’s past.
To continue to advance means member states exiting the crisis together through economic growth. Ortega y Gasset said that “Europeans do not know how to live unless they are engaged in some great enterprise. When this is lacking, they grow petty and feeble and their souls disintegrate.” The Nobel Prize should serve as an incentive to avert this outcome.
La Stampa, Turin
The prize comes as a surprise during the most difficult moments of the process of continental integration, as the crisis hits families incessantly … It is finally a concrete recognition of a path which has afforded the continent 67 years without conflict.
“Nobel Peace prize? EU have got to be joking!” (Headline)
Daily Telegraph, London
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union prompts, above all, one question: is it too late for Alfred Nobel’s heirs to ask for their money back? With the commendation first of Al Gore, and then a neophyte Barack Obama, the prize committee was generally agreed to have made a colossal fool of itself. But yesterday’s announcement transcended the critics’ wildest dreams. To take this decision seriously would be to give the Nobel committee a status that, many would argue, it no longer deserves. Indeed, the greatest service it has done is not to diplomacy, but to comedy. How delicious to witness the parade of Eurocrats shutting their ears to the cacophonous mockery yesterday, as they modestly expressed their surprise and pleasure.
Daily Mail, London
The brutal truth – which the ruling classes refuse to accept – is that it is the obsession with keeping the fatally-flawed euro alive that is fuelling extremism and creating the real threat to peace. Yes, it is chilling that the EU has won this award.
But it’s even more chilling to think it will be viewed by Brussels as an encouragement to carry on pursuing the same anti-democratic policies that are now bringing such very real misery.
Much like the prize for rookie President Obama in 2009, in essence an award for not being George Bush, it is given more in hope than anything else. In this case the hope is that European leaders will recall that their troubles today pale next to those faced by their forebears before the EU. If the Nobel spurs them into remembering that, and into transcending their narrow sectional interests for the greater good, then – like Europe itself – it will prove a prize well worth defending.
La Tribune, Paris
This prize may better reflect the worries of the Nobel Committee for the future and the cohesion of the EU. The idea is to recall the usefulness of the EU at a time when the ranks of the doubters are swelling.
The EU has obviously acted in accordance with Nobel’s will in promoting friendly cooperation between its member states. But why the press and the public still poured scorn on the decision?
The most direct reason is that the award was granted at a wrong time. The EU did not win the prize when it contributed most to peace and unity, but became the laureate when the eurozone debt crisis challenges the 27-nation bloc’s unity and leads to social unrest in many of its member states. It is understandable that many doubt whether the award is a honor or a satire.
Ma’ariv, Tel Aviv
Obama received the prize in order to encourage him to advance peace. He has not advanced any peace. The EU is receiving the prize for a peace that – from the outset – it has not advanced. It will be interesting to see who receives the prize next year. Apparently it will be the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which grants respect and prestige to Sudanese leader Omar Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the international court in the Hague for genocide. If the EU deserves it, so do they.