• Van Rompuy (l) and Schulz (r) fly to Oslo to pick up the prize. Barroso will also join them on stage (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU leaders to claim Nobel Prize in honour of 'European project'

10.12.12 @ 09:28

  1. By Benjamin Fox
  2. Benjamin email

BRUSSELS - EU leaders will collect the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Monday (10 December) claiming that the bloc will survive its current political and economic difficulties.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday (9 December), Barroso said that the award was "for the European project - the people and the institutions - that day after day, for the last sixty years, have built a new Europe."

Barroso, alongside Herman Van Rompuy and Martin Schultz, the respective heads of the European Council and Parliament, will accept the prize awarded in recognition of the EU's contribution to peace in Europe since its inception 60 years ago.

Meanwhile, European Council President Herman van Rompuy on Sunday insisted that the EU would survive its current crisis.

"The EU is going through a difficult period. I'm sure we will succeed. We will come out of uncertainty and recession stronger than before," he said.

The commission also issued a statement that the $1.2 million prize would be "allocated to children that are most in need".

For its part, Norway has twice voted against EU membership in referendums in 1972 and 1994 and the country's Labour Prime Minister, Jen Stoltenberg insisted that his government had no plans to re-open the debate.

Heming Olaussen, chairman of Norway's "No to EU" campaign group, described the award as "a provocation to the vast number of Norwegians."

He also dismissed claims that the EU has remained united, commenting that "instead of this picture of unity, 'one for all and all for one,' it is now splitting up between north and south, rich and poor, inside the eurozone and outside the eurozone."

The award ceremony will be attended by around 20 EU leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

The prize is then expected to take pride of place in the "House of European History" - a museum project drawn up by former President of Parliament, Hans Gert-Poettering, which opens in 2014.

The prize comes at a difficult time for the EU, against the backdrop of a sovereign debt crisis and co-ordinated austerity programmes which have seen five member states formally request emergency loans.

On Thursday (13 December) EU leaders will meet in Brussels for a two day summit aimed at finalising the legal framework for a banking union giving the European Central Bank (ECB) supervisory powers over the eurozone banking sector.

Critics of the award include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquivel, all of whom are Nobel Prize laureates.

In an open letter to the Nobel Foundation the three laureates said that the EU supported "security based on military force and waging wars rather than insisting on the for an alternative approach."

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