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EU awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize

It began humbly in 1951 - with the establishment in Paris of the European Coal and Steel Community between France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. More than 60 years and 21 more nations later, the European Union has been recognised for its efforts by no less than the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOBEL PEACE PRIZE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN, THORBJOERN JAGLAND, SAYING: "The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 is to be awarded to the European Union. The Union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe." In 1957, the Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community which gradually expanded to embrace Britain, Ireland and Denmark in 1973, then Greece, Spain and Portugal in the 1980s and later Sweden, Finland and Austria. This was followed by a rash of former Soviet Bloc countries and Cyprus and Malta in 2004 and 2007. Over the years there have been highs but there have also been lows: the controversial Common Agricultural Policy was widely criticised and led to violent protests as farmers demanded higher prices. The launch of the euro in 2002 was also controversial and has come under increasing pressure in recent years with the global financial crisis. Some see the EU as a bloc in increasing danger of being disunited. But others like the Nobel Peace Prize Committee see the organisation as a prosperous and successful example of peaceful regime change. The $1.2 million peace prize will be presented in Oslo on December 10.

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