The European Union’s Nobel Peace Prize win is an opportunity for further integration, EU figures said on Friday.
Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said the 27-member bloc should move towards closer political union.
“I see it as an invitation to bring European integration forward. It is a call to us to build Europe further, and not neglect Europe,” he said.
Romano Prodi, a former European Commission president and a two-time Italian prime minister, stressed that the EU had been important in keeping the peace.
“Europe is full of monuments for those who died in battle. And we must be grateful to them, for their sacrifice. Now, for three generations, we are in pace. We are happy,” he said.
“You saw what happened in Yugoslavia and you see what’s happening in North Africa now. So long live a peaceful Europe.”
Media reports on Friday said there was already some confusion over who would represent the EU to pick up the award.
The bloc is led by EP president Schulz, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman van Rompuy.
There were also many critics of the Nobel Committee’s decision. Czech President Vaclav Klaus slammed the award as “a tragic mistake”.
“The Nobel Prize has always been given to individuals, to individual people who have been dedicated to some special case and have shown some specific unique effort in that case. To give it to a bureaucratic institution makes it a void award,” Klaus said.
Spain’s Indignado protesters were also unhappy at the EU’s Nobel win, especially at a time when their country is experiencing such severe austerity.
They took to the streets of Madrid on Friday to denounce the harsh spending cuts being asked of them by the European Commission.