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The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded this year's Peace Prize to the European Union and  for it's and it's predecessors' six decades of contribution to peace and reconcilliation, democracy and human rights.

The citation goes on:

In the inter-war years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made several awards to persons who were seeking reconciliation between Germany and France. Since 1945, that reconciliation has become a reality. The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe. Over a seventy-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars. Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable. This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners.

In the 1980s, Greece, Spain and Portugal joined the EU. The introduction of democracy was a condition for their membership. The fall of the Berlin Wall made EU membership possible for several Central and Eastern European countries, thereby opening a new era in European history. 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.

The committee noted that the admission of Croatia next year, negotiations with Montenegro and the granting of candidate status to Serbia (as well as the membership of Slovenia) are helping reconcilliation in the former Yugoslavia.

While recognising that the current economic crisis is leading to social unrest...

The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.
So raise a glass of cognac to Jean Monet and Robert Schuman, the two great Founding Fathers of the EU who show that bankers and lawyers can come up with ideas to benefit humanity.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? Because he has an Ann Droid.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 03:37:52 AM PDT

  •  Laudable (4+ / 0-)

    Not an exciting choice, but significant considering the current economic climate here in Europe and the tensions it has caused among some of the EU member states.  

    Granted, the Nobel Committee can do whatever it wants, but I always find it strange when they award the prize to an institution instead of to a person or group.  I think the prize has a bigger impact when it's given to a person.

  •  Considering what the EU is doing to Greece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo

    Spain and Portugal, it seems like a strange choice.

    •  Look at the long term (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      killjoy

      When the Iron and Steel community was created, Greece had just emerged from a civil war and was about to enter a two decades long period of military dictatorship. Portugal and Spain had had fascist dictators for two decades before that.

      Thirty odd years ago you could fly into Lisbon airport, look down and see shanty towns as bad as anything on the flats next to Cape Town or huddled besides the rail tracks in Lusaka. The Junta had bankrupted the country trying to retain Portugal's imperial possessions. Expatriots fled back to a country completely unable to even accommodate them decently when the new government pulled the plug on its empire.

      Spain today has high speed rail lines linked into the rest of the continent. But it also has its own versions of the "road to nowhere" financed by the central government but often vanity projects for local and regional politicians - like vast modern opera houses that opens for less than a month a year.

      Athens literally has a tramline to nowhere. The line links the city centre to the crumbling, derelict and abandoned venues of the 2004 Olympics.

      All three (and Ireland) had huge grants from the EU centrally to both bring their countries into a reasonably fit state to join in the first place and regional development aid after that. All three had to bring their democratic institutions to a reasonable maturity. Indeed, while recognising the huge role of Juan Carlos I, the fact that you see demonstrations able to be held on the streets of Athens and Spanish cities is to a large part down to the EU.

      Yes it is easy to blame the EU for the current economic crises, especially if you are a Portugese, Greek or Spanish politician who signally failed to address overspending, vanity projects, corruption and tax avoidance on an industrial scale.

      And it's the EU, together with the IMF, who are providing the money to bail these governments out. The cost is the austerity that is hitting the poorest hard, a quite justifiable concern. However nobody has come forward with a viable alternative that would not affect them even more badly and would deprived them of this emergency funding.

      Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? Because he has an Ann Droid.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 06:42:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Many have come forward with viable (0+ / 0-)

        alternatives.

        It's been the politicians who are deep in throes to Austrian economics who refused to undertake the recommendations.

        4 years ago Greece had 250 billion in debt. 75 billion in distressed bonds purchased in the secondary market (clearing huge profits for buyers, since the bonds sold at 20% of value) would have brought Greek debt down to 80% of GDP.

        If they had done for that for every country (as proposed by Soros's economists, people like Munchau, Martin Wolf and many others, and sponsored by Guy Verhofstadt, etc.), they would have nipped this all in the bud.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 08:50:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If wishes were horses (0+ / 0-)

          beggars would ride.

          I am not talking about what might have been if decisions had been taken differently 4 years ago or, in Greece's case, the then government had not colluded with their supposed assessors to fake the position to enable them to join the Euro.

          IF they had acted to address their budgets before now, the degree of austerity would not have been so severe.

          The stark choice for the Greeks and Spanish (why are the Portugese and Irish comparatively stoical?) is between remaining in the Eurozone and accepting the bail-outs and the conditions that come with them or abandoning the Euro in favor of a return to a national currency.

          In reality it is no choice. Leaving means an immediate devaluation of the currency and a government with no funds to pay wages, pensions, unemployment benefits or for things like health services and education. Greece in particular is heavily dependent on imports particularly of energy usually priced in dollars. So to survive, they would have to renegotiate IMF loans, likely with even heavier austerity measures and would be excluded from the Euro-specific measures designed to stabilise the single currency. That's going to be even worse for those most affected by the current measures.

          Now what measures are being suggested as alternatives to these, for the situation TODAY, not 4 years ago?

          Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? Because he has an Ann Droid.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 06:14:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are plans out there (0+ / 0-)

            Many of them such as those I listed above.

            Stuart Holland's for instance.

            The INET Berlin conference was full of solutions.

            When Soros got up to talk, a reporter asked if there was a solution. With a wave of the hand, Soros pointed to Hiolland's co-authro who had just given a talk. There it is, he said.

            I don't know how much time you have but, check it out:

            http://ineteconomics.org/...

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 06:45:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No details, no specifics (0+ / 0-)

              Please outline what the supposed solution is as the link you give is just to their front page for the conference.

              The only solutions offered that I have read have been along the lines of the person asking directions in rural Ireland. When asking the way to a certain place the answer is "well I would not start from here".

              ALL the so-called answers I have seen so far either involve a Romney like retrospective set of measures; withdrawal from the Euro and defaulting, thereby ensuring the country is unable to borrow funds to resource the expansion that is the next step suggested.

              Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? Because he has an Ann Droid.

              by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 08:59:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The entire conference was about solutions (0+ / 0-)

                The highlight link alone does it.

                But here's Holland's:

                THE PROPOSAL'S THREE MAIN POLICIES

                Policy 1 - Stabilising the sovereign debt crisis

                Institution: The ECB (European Central Bank)

                1.1 Tranche transfer to the ECB
                The ECB takes on its books a tranche of the sovereign debt of all member states equal in face value to up to 60% of GDP.

                1.2 ECB bonds
                The transferred tranche is held as ECB bonds (€-bonds hereafter) that are the ECB's own liability.

                1.3 Fiscal neutrality (i.e. no fiscal transfer)
                Member states continue to service their share of hitherto sovereign debt now held by the ECB. To do so, each participating member-state holds a debit account with the ECB which it services long term at the lower interest
                rates attainable by the ECB as the central bank of the Union. Formerly sovereign national debt transferred to the ECB reduces the debt servicing burden of the most exposed member states without increasing the debt
                burden of any of the remaining member-states.

                1.4 National debt reduction
                The transfer of debt of up to 60% of GDP to the ECB means that most European member states then are Maastricht compliant on their remaining national debt and do not need to reduce it within the terms of reference of
                the SGP. Greece would need to do so but at some 27% of GDP in 2012 rather than 87% such reduction would be feasible especially if the deflationary effects of current policies are offset by its share of EIB financed cohesion and convergence investments.

                1.5 The SGP and the Tranche Transfer
                The national SGP limits therefore become credible with the tranche transfer to the ECB. For such a member state as Greece, whose remaining national debt exceeds 60% of GDP, the transfer should be conditional on an agreed
                schedule for its reduction.

                Policy 2 - Tackling the banking sector crisis

                Institution: The European Financial Stability Fund.

                2.1 Rigorous Stress Tests
                Rigorous stress tests to be conducted centrally (as opposed to by national watchdog authorities) that assume an average haircut of 30% for sovereign bonds of member-states with debt-to-GDP ratio exceeding 70% and a 90%
                haircut for toxic paper found in the banks' books. The degree of recapitalisation necessary for each Eurozone bank should be computed on the basis of these tests.

                2.2 Banks seeking long term liquidity from the ECB
                Funded by net issues of Eurobonds subscribed by the central banks of surplus economies and sovereign wealth funds, the ECB can make medium term large liquidity provisions to the private banks conditional on haircuts on
                the existing sovereign bonds in their portfolio.

                2.3 Recapitalisation
                Re-capitalisation of banks should be short-term, once off and undertaken by the EFSF rather than a future ESM. It also should be in exchange for equity. If a bank cannot raise the necessary capital to meet the re-capitalisation
                target computed above, then the EFSF (and later the ESM) should require a swap of capital for public equity in the bank. The finance for this could be from bonds issued by the EFSF/ESM rather than national taxation. The return on the bonds should come from the dividends on the equity paid to the EFSF.

                Summary: The purpose of Policy 2 is to cleanse the banks of questionable public and private paper assets so as to allow them to turn liquidity that comes their way in the future into loans to enterprises and households. The
                problem, currently, is that if banks are submitted to rigorous stress tests, several may be found to be bankrupt. Thus, Europe needs simultaneously to lean on them to come clean but also to help them do so without
                insolvency.

                Policy 3 European Recovery Programme

                Institutions: The EIB (European Investment Bank), the ECB (European Central Bank) and national governments

                3.1 Co-financing the EIB commitment to cohesion and convergence investments. As indicated earlier, since 1997 the EIB has been remitted to contribute to both cohesion and convergence through investments in health, education, urban renewal and environment, green technology and new high tech start ups. But while it has done so with success, quadrupling its own borrowing and
                investments since then, its investments in many cases (as with the TENS) have been constrained by the national debt and deficit limits of the SGP.

                There is a strong case for maintaining that national co-finance for EIB investments should not count on national debt and that this should be allowed within the 2005 revised terms of the Stability and Growth Pact (see below). But just as EIB borrowing for investment through its own bonds is not counted against national debt by any of the major Eurozone countries, nor need be so by others, ECB bonds which could co-finance EIB investments – by the analogy with US Treasury bonds - should not do so either. The analogy with US Treasury bonds, which do not count on the debt of member states of the American Union, should be seized upon. It would take the brake off the TENs and especially the high speed rail networks which, in several member states, still are being postponed because national co-finance counts within the current interpretations of the SGP. These in themselves could constitute €1 trillion of investments in the decade to
                2020. Also, while their environmental impact in the case of motorways is open to challenge, priority could be given to rail networks which are both less directly polluting and, in the case of shifting freight from road to rail, and for medium distances from air to rail, indirectly so.

                3.2 Extension of the role of the European Investment Fund
                The original design by one of us4 for the EIF was that it should issue Union Bonds. But a parallel recommendation to Delors for the EIF, and which influenced his gaining consent from the Essen 1994 European Council to establish it, was that it should offer public venture capital for small and medium firms rather than only equity guarantees. The Council declined this at the time, but Ecofin, which constitutes the governing body of the EIB/EIF Group, could remit it to do so. A similar constraint on EIF finance for small and medium firms and new high-tech start ups was that it initially would not consider an application for equity guarantees of less than 15 mecu and then declined direct applications for such guarantees
                rather than offering them through private sector banks or other financial intermediaries. This was compromised both by the concern of private banks to gain loan finance
                as counterpart packaging of such equity guarantees and denied the original design for the EIF which was to enable SMEs to avoid the need for interest repayments during the initial years of a new high tech start-up in which revenue was either nil or negligible. Ecofin, therefore, should determine that the EIF, co-financed by both EIB and ECB
                bonds issues, should offer equity rather than only equity guarantees and do so through ‘one stop shops’ in each of the national capitals of the EU member states to which SMEs, currently starved of finance from the concern of banks to recapitalise, can readily have access.

                I don't think it's right for you to say there have been no viable solutions when there have been many.

                There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                by upstate NY on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 01:10:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Check it out (0+ / 0-)

            http://ineteconomics.org/...

            Stuart Holland has a solution. Many others.

            George Soros was asked during his Q&A about solutions, and he just waved toward Holland's co-author who had just presented a solution prior to Holland speaking.

            Solutions exist.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 06:46:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes indeed. This was (0+ / 0-)

      a ridiculous and offensive decision.

  •  Congratulations to them... (0+ / 0-)

    I once worked for an organization that won the Nobel peace prize, and I can tell you it is a very big deal in the global arena.

    I have also worked for the EC - the EU's aid arm - and while they can be as cumbersome as any other bureaucracy, I met some very dedicated people who were committed to making life a little easier for some very vulnerable groups and people.

    I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

    by Wayward Wind on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 05:40:44 AM PDT

  •  Boring choice for increasingly irrelevant honor (0+ / 0-)

    This is why the Nobel Peace Prize is becoming increasingly irrelevant--it has become simply boring.

    The EU is a bad choice, as many of the choices have been, some of them laughingly political as the Committee ever tries to inject its own self-serving interest upon the world stage. Pity the poor coffers of the Nobel trust fund--the amount has been curtailed to reflect the world economic downtown, so why wouldn't the Nobel Committee pay genuflected homage to that antiquated heap of similar irrelevance--the European Union?

    The Peace Prize has run so far afield of the original concept of it as envisioned by Alfred Nobel that most of the world simply greets its annual news with a yawn.

    While I am proud of the multiple achievements of three great Democratic Presidents--Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and Al Gore (he really did win the presidency--he was simply denied it by the US Supreme Court)--Bill Clinton's CGI has become the true center for seeking after solutions to global problems, concerning which no leading political figure from anywhere in the world (not even Mitt Romney, God help us) declines an opportunity to appear.

    The CGI is now far more a success than is even the current thrust of the United Nations itself.  Honoring it through Bill Clinton would have given the Nobel a far better spokesperson for the inspiration of Alfred Nobel than could ever any group of dusty, immured Peace Prize overseers.

    One suspects the fact that wherever Bill Clinton goes there remains that inveterate group of enemies, still spitting their vitriol, left over from the 1990s--this being their number one target, and yet the one that got away.

    Bill has been annually nominated from the latter 1990s, and although his recommendation is forcefully placed before the judges each time, the prudish indeed dusty and immured overseers deny it to him--and ever shall.

    But no matter--Bill has far superseded the Prize.  His CGI conferences now command world headlines.  There is simply not enough room to accommodate members from the broader world community that would like to
    Personally participate.  Everywhere Bill goes the lightning follows him--he is platinum politician and mesmerizing spokesperson for anyone assigning his talents.  

    Whereas the annual Peace Prize, increasingly losing any relevance, for the most part being choices that are safe, predictable, and self-serving for the Nobel Committee, is now almost always indeed simply greeted with a yawn.

  •  Hmm. (0+ / 0-)

    Interesting choice, and congratulations to the citizens of the EU.  I don't really agree with the characterization of the German/French relationship in the citation, though.

    Over a seventy-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars. Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable.
    I think "unthinkable" is a bit strong.  Unlikely, maybe...at least in the next few years, which is about as far ahead as anyone can predict the behavior of nations.  Much of the reason for the peaceful nature of the German/French relationship over the last 60 years is because of the strict limitations placed on Germany at the end of WWII, coupled with a genuine remorse by the German people for the horrors committed in their name by the Nazi government.  Germany ceased being the assertive and often aggressive power that it always had been.

    Today, however, Germany is breaking out of its limitations, both self-imposed and treaty imposed.  German troops are serving in combat again in foreign lands.  Germany holds the economic/financial power in the EU, and is using that power to shape European policy in many ways.  Some of those ways are likely to rub other European powers, including France and Britain, the wrong way...leading to renewed tensions.  

    The biggest danger to Europe, however, is the rise of right-wing extremism.  You see it throughout the EU, but it is especially troubling to me in Britain and Germany.  Couple that extremism with some new nationalist movement, and there will be problems.

    Terror has no religion.
    لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الل

    by downsouth on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 07:17:10 AM PDT

  •  Death bed award (0+ / 0-)

    You can only award the Nobel prize to the living, right?

    This might have been their last opportunity.

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