Peace isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Europe these days, particularly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel being greeted in Greece this week by tens of thousands of protesters. However, the Nobel Committee has been making some odd picks in recent years, such as handing the award to President Obama after only nine months in office, and decided to keep up the trend by giving this year’s prize to the European Union. According to Reuters, Nobel chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said the E.U. won because it transformed Europe “from a continent of wars to a continent of peace.”
The decision is surprising considering the current debt crisis, and the fact that Norway voted not to join the E.U. on two occasions. Jagland admitted that the prize is meant to prod the E.U. into getting its act together. “This is a message to Europe to do everything they can to secure what they’ve achieved and move forward,” Jagland said, adding that it’s also a reminder of what would be lost “if the union is allowed to collapse.” The $1.2 million in prize money is definitely going to be a big help.