paper presenting to the UACES 44th Annual Conference, Cork
The award of the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 to the European Union (EU) came as a shock and surprise. Not only was the Eurozone economic crisis undermining public support for the EU, but the crisis was also seriously challenging the EU’s image in global politics. Although the Nobel Committee acknowledged these grave difficulties and the current considerable unrest in Europe, it wished to focus attention on what it regarded as the EU’s most important result: helping to “transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace”. But is this noble narrative of war and peace (which is at the heart of European integration) at an end, six decades after the creation of the forerunner to the current EU? We argue that this principled account of peace and reconciliation is likely to remain just one of several narratives of European integration, but with its reputation somewhat tarnished, as its central legitimising role has ended. It is being increasingly crowded out by other and more compelling narratives and not all of these are supportive of the original goals of European integration. We further argue that these other narratives have been, and will be, important in understanding European integration both in the past and in the future. We differentiate between scholarly and policy-oriented narratives in the development of our argument. The critical question is whether these narratives have and should – or could - provide legitimation for the EU after the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
European Integration; narrative; Nobel peace prize; Faculty of Social Sciences