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Europe is awarded Nobel Peace Prize for transforming 'continent of war to one of peace' (but Clegg has to represent Britain as Cameron has stayed at home)
All but six Prime Ministers of Europe turn up to see Peace Price awarded to the EUBut David Cameron stays home, leaving Clegg to represent the UK
Committee congratulates EU for leading 'global quest for peace'
17:15 GMT, 10 December 2012
The European Union's three presidents collected the Nobel Peace Prize today in recognition of six decades of work promoting 'peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights'.
Prime Minister David Cameron stayed away – one of six EU leaders who decided not to attend.
Instead, deputy Nick Clegg got his own day of peace, attending alone to represent the UK in the splendour of the Nobel Institute in Oslo.
Lavish: Political leaders and dignitaries gather for the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony at Oslo City Hall, Norway
The City Hall in Oslo was host to the prime ministers of Europe during the Nobel Peace Prize 2012
Attendees heard Nobel Committee
President Thorbjoern Jagland praise the EU's role in transforming a
European 'continent of war' into a 'continent of peace'.
He said: 'That should not be taken for granted – we have to struggle for it every day'.
Mr Jagland emphasised that the same
prize had been awarded in the 1920s to the foreign ministers of France
and Germany marking post-First World War reconciliation. Then in the
1930s the continent had degenerated into conflict and war once more.
But he said now was the time to
celebrate prolonged peace – and welcome the French and German leaders
sitting side by side in Oslo.
the announcement of the peace award in October caused surprise and
controversy in the midst of one of the EU's worst crises and at a time
of deep – albeit non-violent – rifts between major member states.
Today's ceremony comes in the
week of yet another EU summit to try to resolve the continuing
euro-crisis which, according to UK Independence Party leader Nigel
Farage risks 'engendering violence, poverty and despair across Europe'.
A peaceful day for this deputy: Nick Clegg arrives at the City Hall for the Nobel Peace Prize presentation
President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz hold the Nobel Peace Prize certificate and medal, after accepting it on behalf of the EU
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: 'This is an
award for the European project – for the people and the institutions –
that day after day, for the last 60 years, have built a new Europe.
'We will honour this prize and we will preserve what has been achieved. It is in the common interest of our citizens.
it will allow Europe to contribute in shaping that 'better organised
world' in line with the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and
rule of law that we cherish and believe in.
last 60 years have shown that Europe can unite in peace. Over the next
60 years, Europe must lead the global quest for peace.'
Speaking after the ceremony, Nick Clegg said: 'Today's prize is a tribute to the people of Europe, not an institution.
'For centuries, the idea of Europe and peace was a contradiction in terms.
'The fact that we have not been to war with our neighbours for nearly 70 years now is a testament to the sacrifices of the generations that have gone before us and the hard work since.
'Coming from a family that was brought together in the safety of Britain after suffering the horrors of both world wars in different parts of the globe, this prize has particular resonance.
'At the start of what will be another busy week for European cooperation it has been helpful to speak to Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and other leaders about pressing issues such as banking reform and the EU Budget.'
Norway's King Harald, left, Norway's Queen Sonja, second left, Norway's Crown Princess Mette Marit and Norway's Crown Prince Haakon attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony
Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway applaud during the ceremony
Meanwhile, with more than 1,200 guests and 40
chefs, Sweden will holds its annual awards ceremony hoping a year of
cost-cutting will not be noticed by the laureates, royals or the Who's
Who of Sweden attending the lavish dinner.
ceremony tops a week of events in Stockholm for the winners of the
literature, physics, chemistry, medicine and economics prizes that see
Sweden briefly enjoying the kind of extravagance usually associated with
this year the prize money has been cut by a fifth, contracts with
suppliers have been renegotiated and even the number of chauffeur-driven
cars for Nobel winners and their guests has been reduced.
wonder whether guests will perceive any austerity in the week's events –
which last year cost around 20million Swedish crowns (1.8million) and
usually feature Sweden's best cooks, designers and musicians, as well as
thousands of flowers flown in from Italy.
Making peace: European leaders gather for a photograph after the ceremony
Hopefully peaceful discussions… German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and French President Francois Hollande talk as Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti looks on
have been some cuts,' Nobel Foundation Executive Director Lars
Heikensten told reporters, but refusing to give any details. 'You will
not notice them.'
than a century, the foundation has managed the roughly $450million
(280million) capital that forms the base for the awards, donated in the
will of dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel.
But in recent years returns have suffered amid the global crisis.
'We are in this forever and we should
safeguard it (the prize),' said Heikensten, a former Swedish central
bank chief known for reducing staff during his tenure.
The awards are now worth $1.2million (0.74million) each, down from around $1.5million (0.9million) in recent years.
Still, this evening's festivities at
Stockholm's City Hall – itself decorated with 11 kg of gold leaf – are
unlikely to be spartan.
Details of the menu are only revealed
minutes before the food is served, but guests at the event – touted as
one of the world's biggest set dinners – will eat from some 7,000 pieces
of porcelain using 10,000 items of silverware and drink from 5,400
Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjoern Jagland speaks in Oslo City Hall during the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 award ceremony
Space is so tight guests are asked to avoid going to the toilet between courses to avoid jams in the aisle.
There will also be a fair share of
bling, from jewel encrusted handbags to glittering tiaras, as Sweden's
small and influential political and business elite jettisons its famed
egalitarian image to hobnob with diplomats and political leaders from
around the globe.
The strict dress code – white tie and
tails for men and gowns for women – is complemented by a similarly
strict code of behaviour.
Toasting, for example, is done
Swedish style: raise your glass, look your table companions in the eyes,
swing the glass in the air ever so slightly – no clinking – sip and
repeat eye contact before setting the glass down.
The formality is in stark contrast to
neighbour Norway where Australian pop-princess Kylie Minogue features
when the European Union is handed this year's Nobel Peace Prize at a
ceremony in Oslo on Monday.
The EU's win raised a few eyebrows when announced in October.
And Nobel week in Sweden has
attracted its share of controversy with literature winner Mo Yan
steering clear of human rights issues and refusing publicly to back a
petition by fellow laureates to free jailed compatriot and Nobel Peace
Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
The Nobel Foundation, which organizes
the prizes, will be hoping the dinner retains enough glamour, despite
this year's cost cuts, to divert any attention away from such issues.