There have been two lines of attack from UK EU-phobes to the news that the EU has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. One has been to point to the current economic travails of the EU, and the political strife that has caused, and to criticise the award as a result. For me the award looks slightly odd as a result of this poor timing (10 years ago would have been better), but it does not render the award wrong per se.
Instead we must focus on the second critique: that the European Union has not delivered peace in Europe. There are a number of threads to this one – that it was NATO and the Americans that did it rather than the EU (Redwood – Telegraph), that Germany would not have gone to war again anyway (David Davis, on BBC radio I’m told), that economic interdependence would have meant war was unthinkable anyway, that wars in the Balkans in the EU were not prevented by the EU and hence render the peace argument invalid.
But look at this the other way: is, on balance, the role of the European Union positive or negative in ensuring peace in and among its 27 Member States? Can Redwood or Hannan or others seriously argue that the EU is a force AGAINST peace, and has been a force against it for the last 60 years?
Yes, NATO, economics etc. will also have had some sort of role to prevent further war, but the European Union helped this process too, and that is why the award is justified. 60 years without war in Western Europe is a tremendous achievement. I cannot prove either way whether Europe would have gone to war without the EU, but neither can Redwood or anyone else prove the opposite. We do not have a counterfactual, we do not know for sure. But on the balance of information we have available the EU has contributed to peace in Europe. What’s the problem with that?
(Cartoon: 1992 from Plantu – Source)