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As it continues to struggle with a devastating economic crisis, the European Union has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. With the selection, the Nobel Committee is striking a counterblow to the bloc’s critics. Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland emphasized that the "historic” prize had perspectives that were both "current and long-term.”

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In its statement, the Nobel Committee said the EU had contributed to the peaceful development of Europe for more than six decades, and underscored that European integration had brought the continent peace, reconciliation and democracy. The committee, which is made up of five members, emphasized that reconciliation between France and Germany after the Second World War had been key to the process of European integration. Chairman Jagland also said the integration of eastern European nations after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 had promoted the cause of peace.

All over the world, the decision was greeted with applause. Many view it as encouragement for even closer unification. Head of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso called it a "great honor”, while former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl - who for many years was considered a frontrunner candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize himself - said that "on this day, all Europeans have a right to be proud.”

But voices were also raised in criticism. Some asked why the "bureaucratic monster” of the EU was receiving this prize now, in a time of discord within the union. Others said that it was coming too late. Still others responded that it was important to remind citizens of the union’s values at this critical point in its history. Will the prize encourage other countries to follow in the footsteps of the EU "success story”? And can the award help to iron out the problems inherent in closer economic and political union?

Let us know what you think: The Nobel Peace Prize - A Boost for the European Idea?


Our guests:

Pascale Hugues – Born in Strasbourg, Hugues began her career in journalism at the BBC world service in London before moving on to become the English correspondent at the French daily newspaper, "Libération". Hugues’ job with the paper took her to Germany in 1989. Since 1995, she has worked as a correspondent for the French news magazine "Le Point". Pascale Hugues became known as an author after the publication of her book "Le Bonheur Allemand" ("German Happiness").

Ewald König – An Austrian national, König began his journalistic career working at the daily newspaper, "Die Presse". As the paper’s Germany correspondent, König first reported from Bonn, then Berlin. In 2003, he set up an independent office for correspondents in the German capital. He has been the editor-in-chief of the portal EurActiv.de since 2009. König is also the author of the series "Die Mauer, die Menschen und die Mitte Europas - Berliner Notizen eines Wiener Korrespondenten“ (The Wall, the People and Central Europe – a Viennese Correspondent’s Notes from Berlin”).

Ursula Weidenfeld – has a PhD in history from the University of Bonn and studied journalism at the Holtzbrinck School in Düsseldorf. She became Berlin correspondent and a deputy editor at the magazine “Wirtschaftswoche” before going on to head the corporations desk at the Financial Times Deutschland. In 2001 she took on the job of economics editor at the daily “Der Tagesspiegel” in Berlin. From May of 2008 until January of 2009, Weidenfeld was also editor-in-chief at the business magazine “Impulse “. The journalist regularly writes for the financial daily “Handelsblatt”, and a collection of those articles has been published in book form. In 2007, Ursula Weidenfel was granted the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Commentary. She is currently a freelancer.