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Guest post by Henry Jackson Society Research Assistant Jennifer Falkenhorst
Having received the Nobel Peace Prize at a time when its visions are under scrutiny, the EU is a deserving recipient due to its great democratic past achievements, the opportunities it offers and the challenges it will be able to master with a common European voice.
The EU’s unique historical origin offered a fresh start for transnational relationships which would have proven difficult through colonial liabilities of certain member states. The EU effectively introduced democracy to member states including the Balkan states, Greece, Spain and Portugal, and established a peaceful relationship between former enemies Germany and France. It is likely that a recovered and strong Germany would have been eyed with suspicion would it not be for the EU where in turn it thrived as the EU powerhouse.
The Nobel Peace Prize thus comes at a time when Eurosceptism is growing louder, as not everything is bright and gloomy, particularly in the EU’s handling of the Eurozone crisis. Yet it is important to realise that the prize is not given for this year’s achievements but for the vision and the project undertaken so far; for the democratisation of countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, the various enmities overcome, especially the Franco-German one, and all the hurdles undertaken to give citizens a greater voice and a place where the voice is heard.
In the words of José Manuel Barroso (head of the European Commission) this “…prize had been awarded to all 500 million EU citizens,” with their next challenge to find a European response to youth unemployment by enhancing democratic understanding and representation through a focus on European (as opposed to purely national) interests.