Nobel peace prize highlights role of EU in making war unthinkable - Bennion

October 12, 2012 8:09 PM
Phil Bennion MEP

Phil Bennion MEP at the Reichstag. Before the EU, democracy in Germany was too weak to prevent the Nazis

West Midlands Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion has welcomed the award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union.

He said: "This award was not expected but I think it is timely. The most important role of the European Union, even more than free trade and the single market, is to cement peace between countries which for centuries went to war on a regular basis, at the cost of millions of lives.

"Europe is now facing the worst economic crisis for 80 years, but it is worth remembering how in a previous age, regimes would often deal with a crisis by launching an invasion.

"We saw that as recently as the 1990s in Yugoslavia. It is the desire for peace above all else that drives the people of Croatia and Serbia and other Balkan countries to demand their leaders sign up to join the EU and meet the conditions of democracy and human rights.

"I hope the award will also serve as a warning to EU governments that they have to act together to chart a way out of the debt crisis - especially as it affects weaker Eurozone nations.

"We cannot just give up on countries like Greece as a bad job - democracy there might be under threat if a sustainable recovery plan is not put in place. As recently as the 1970s Greece, Spain and Portugal were military dictatorships.

"Governments in the EU need to rise above their sometimes petty squabbling and remember what really matters.

"Next month we will be remembering the soldiers who died in two World Wars, launched in the name of narrow nationalism and which led to genocide. I think the Nobel prize should be seen as partly a tribute to their sacrifice, which has delivered 67 years of peace among the major European countries."