“The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement.
“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.”
Within minutes of the announcement that the EU had won, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt praised the choice via his official Twitter account.
“I warmly congratulate all of Europe and our peace to the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union. Highly deserved and highly important,” he wrote.
“Worth noting that Nobel Committee says EU enlargement policies with Balkans and Turkey key part of its contribution to peace.”
Integration minister Erik Ullenhag of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet), a party with a strong pro-EU stance, also turned to Twitter to praise the Nobel Committee’s choice.
“An entirely correct decision to give the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU,” he tweeted.
“It wasn’t a day too soon – the EU is the world’s largest peace project.”
Bildt was joined by Sweden’s Minister for EU Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson in praise for the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision.
“The Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union is well deserved. The EU has helped to heal Europe’s open wounds after two bloody world wars, nasty military dictatorships in the south and communist oppression in Eastern Europe.”
“The EU stands has a proud foundation, but it is not enough to talk about the beautiful words in the treaties. We must stand up for democracy and human rights on a daily basis.”
“The Peace Prize should be a wake up call for the EU to remember its roots,” Birgitta Ohlsson concluded.
Meanwhile Swedish EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström referred to the “irony” of the EU receiving a prize from Norway, which remains outside the union.
“It is ironic that the Norwegians remind us about how valuable the cooperation has been,” Malmström told the Dagens Nyheter daily on Friday.
While expressing surprise that the EU had won the prize, the commissioner argued that perhaps it had come at just the right time.
“Perhaps it can have extra importance just at the moment as we are experiencing the greatest economic crisis ever and as many people are speculating on the EU’s future, to focus on what the EU has actually meant.”
In a statement released in conjunction with Friday’s announcement, the Norwegian Nobel Committee acknowledged that the EU was currently plagued with financial difficulties, but stressed that the EU has nevertheless contributed to peace on the continent.
“The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable 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 Committee wrote.
“The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”
Sweden’s Minister for Social Affairs and head of the Christian Democrats, Göran Hägglund, also noted that the timing of the award “could have been better”, but nonetheless claimed that the EU was “without a doubt a worth Peace Prize recipient”.
“It’s paved the way for a lot of good that we take for granted today,” he tweeted.