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Renson AllieAllie Renison works for Mark Reckless MP and the People's Pledge. Follow Allie on Twitter.

In a flurry of hyperbole, EU leaders accepted the
institution’s Nobel Peace Prize today for “the advance of peace and
reconciliation” amidst a renewed gnashing of teeth over one of the most controversial
awardings in the Committee’s history – matched perhaps only by the designation
of Barack Obama as recipient less than a year into his first term as US
president. One by one, Brussels eurocrats regaled the assembled guests with
stories of war and eventual peace in Europe and the strident words from the
EU’s founding fathers Monnet and Adenauer which helped set the first round of
treaties in motion. Herman van Rompuy made a characteristic Freudian slip in
lauding the work of “Europe’s Founders” – a prescient reminder that Europhiles
have taken the art of conflating our long-existent geographic reality with a
political edifice artificially constructed to new heights. But it is this focus
on the past that should illustrate the grievous error in judgement on the part
of the Nobel committee, chaired ironically by the man who led Norway’s last
failed drive for EU membership, Thorbjørn
Jagland.

At some point in time, the EU probably deserved recognition
for some of its “achievements”. Not for what it set out to achieve per se, but
for some of its more reactive measures and moments. It is genuinely
awe-inspiring to see how, little more than a decade on from the ravages of
conflict in the Balkans, how much of a transformation the countries of
South-Eastern Europe have undergone, and the EU has had more than steady hand
in that rebuilding. For these still-developing nation-states, joining a club
like the EU is the ultimate stamp to mark their rather speedy transition from
embryonic to mature democracies. Though at
times, the rush to satisfy all the tickmarks Brussels requires for entry to the
club means some of these countries’ developments ring a bit hollow in substance
even while gleaming on the surface. The EU as an expediting force in
institution-building, sometimes before the country playing host to this
non-organically generated architecture may be ready to digest it properly, is
not always a force for good.


The worrying precedent that this awarding sets –or perhaps
consolidates- is steeped in its timing and motivation. They are not unlinked of
course; indeed, the former helps illuminate the latter. Europe today finds
itself in a political and economic crisis of a magnitude not seen since the
1940s. The chains of the euro, an experiment EU leaders seem blindly preoccupied
with preserving ahead of national stability and security, threaten to turn the
continent into a bubbling cauldron of indefinitely bleak economic prospects and
socio-political unrest – a dangerous mix indeed. Accordingly, even some of the
EU’s most ardent supporters feel that an award for peace as the continent veers
dangerously towards anything but is something of a slap in the face to Europe’s
citizens, who bear the brunt of decisions made by their political masters in
Brussels.

But of course, timing is everything, and in this case it
highlights the flawed thinking that clearly went into giving an institution in
crisis such momentous recognition. Jagland himself said in an interview shortly
after the announcement was made in October, that at a time when “there is a
real danger Europe will start disintegrating, we should focus again on the
fundamental aims of the organisation”. The award’s purpose was evidently of a
hopeful, transformative nature, more about providing the EU with a morale boost
during very unpeaceful times indeed. That the Nobel Peace Prize has now taken
on a redressing, re-mobilising role in rushing to the defence and aid of its
recipient, rather than being a retrospective beacon for recognition, is a stain
on its rich and distinguished history. There are some people and organisations
at this moment in time who would benefit greatly from having Nobel shine its
light on their efforts. The EU, with the vast resources at its disposal, is not
short of opportunities to promote itself. Giving it the
Nobel Peace Prize now seems an ill-thought through PR exercise, and several
former laureates are right to say it demeans both past recipients and the award
itself going forward.

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