The European Union is celebrating being awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. It has been receiving congratulations from around the world after the announcement in Oslo.
Among those paying tribute were US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.
However Martin Callanan of the Eurosceptic Conservatives and Reformist Party in the European Parliament described the Nobel committee as being “a little late for an April fool’s joke” and “out of touch”.
Chrisoula Panagiotidi, a beautician in Athens, said: “Is this a joke? It mocks us and what we are going through right now.”
The Nobel committee said it wanted to recognise six decades of work towards promoting peace, democracy and human rights.
It is the first time in 13 years an organisation has been awarded the prize.
It also came despite the EU’s current troubles and fragility.
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. The stabilising part played by the European Union has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,”
said the chairman of Norway’s Nobel committee Thorbjorn Jagland.
The EU can also point to its work in building the future as well as its achievements of the past.
The EU’s popular Erasmus scheme, which funds student exchanges between different countries, has been running for 25 years. More than two million students have used it.
The Nobel prize will do no harm as the project has been facing bankruptcy.