The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee on Monday honoured the European Union with Peace Prize for 2012 in the presence of EU heads of state and government in Oslo. The Committee said the organisation had been given the award for transforming Europe from a continent plagued by war to a continent of peace.

The prize was collected on behalf of the EU by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council; Martin Schulz, President of Parliament; and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.

Prize committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland, in complimenting the EU on its efforts to promote peace in the world, said the committee had focused more on the EU’s work over the past decades rather than on immediate concerns of the downturn in the eurozone.

Europe emerged from the ashes of World War II with leaders like Charles de Gaulle of France and Konrad Adenauer of Germany determined not to allow the continent to slip back into the barbarism of war. Starting as a six-nation cartel to pool coal and steel production in the 1950s, the European Union is now poised to welcome its 28th member state, Croatia.

“The stabilising part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace. The division between East and West has to a large extent been brought to an end; democracy has been strengthened; many ethnically based national conflicts have been settled,” said the Nobel committee said on October 12 when it announced the EU had won, an unexpected decision.

The prize money of €930,000 will be given to projects that help children struggling in war zones, with the recipients to be announced next week. The EU has said it will add €1.07 million along with it to donate a total of €2 million to the selected aid projects.

“This Nobel prize is a recognition of our union’s achievements as a peacemaker and a tribute to the work of generations of Europeans,” said Mr. Van Rompuy. (with inputs from agencies)

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