On 10 December 2012, in a unanimous decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union "for its contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".
Since then, Europe has faced economic crises, harsh austerity measures, social unrest, and a global pandemic that claimed the lives of more than 2 million people across the continent.
Now the war in Ukraine is offering the union its latest test and jolting the foundations of the global multilateral system.
Europeans who dreamt of a continent at peace with itself are now witnessing seismic changes in the global balance of power that may change the world forever.
In a series of exclusive interviews, Euronews asked European leaders for their view on the most serious mistakes of the past, as well as the biggest challenges for the future -- in the hope of finding out: where do we go from here?
“The European Union is the biggest project ever in the history of Europe", said Herman Van Rompuy, the first permanent president of the European Council. “So, when there is what you call the unravelling of the European Union...peace is at risk”.
Back in 2012, Europe was gripped by a crisis of the euro. Austerity measures were in place and protests broke out on the streets of many European capitals.
"At that time, many analysts were predicting the collapse of the euro, Greece leaving the euro. It did not happen. On the contrary, now we have more countries joining the euro”, former President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso explained. “And so that has shown the great resilience of the European Union”, he added.
“I think if it weren't for Europe, we would be all going our '[own] way”, explained Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament. “The instinct is always to do that, to close borders, to look inwards. But if one thing has shown us and taught us, it's that being together is so much stronger”.
"We need to fight for it. We need to defend it. And I think most importantly, we need to explain it", Metsola said.
"Thousands of years...[of] war between countries in Europe, and since [the creation of the European Union] more than seven decades, peace. Why?", remarked former President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. "Because we created a structure where war between members [of the] European Union is impossible."
Watch the video above to view Euronews' exclusive interviews in full.