On 12 October 2012, the Oslo-based Nobel Committee announced the award of the annual Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union (EU) ‘for the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe’, according to the press release announcing the Committee’s choice. Four key motivations lay behind the Committee’s decision. First, the EU has been identified as instrumental in ending the historical Franco-German hostility, making war between these two states ‘unthinkable’ and showing how ‘through well-aimed efforts and by building up confidence, historical enemies can become close partners’. Second, the incorporation of southern democracies emerging from dictatorship (Greece, Spain and Portugal) into EU institutions has contributed to consolidating their democratic character. Third, the post-Cold War extension of EU membership to several Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries has opened a ‘new era in European history’, ending the historical division between East and West and strengthening democracy. Fourth, membership prospects have been reinforcing the ‘process of reconciliation in the Balkans’ and advancing ‘democracy and human rights’ in Turkey. In sum, the Committee argued, ‘the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace’.1


European Union North Atlantic Treaty Organization Democratic Consolidation European Union Institution European Union Membership 
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© Roberto Belloni 2016

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