What, people ask, to make of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s decision today to award the 2012 prize to the European Union? I think a big part of the reason is bound up in the answer to the question ‘why now?’. Indeed, why this year of all years, when the EU is beset by crises and euroscepticism is on the rise? Another part of the reason is bound up in the answer to the question ‘why the EU?’. Can the EU legitimately argue that it alone has ‘overcome war and divisions … to jointly shape a continent of peace and prosperity’? (to quote Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso’s joint statement). My interpretation of the award is that the Committee wanted to remind younger and forgetful Europeans about what came before and it wanted to underline its belief that the EU represents the best guarantee for a peaceful future. In other words, it is precisely because the EU is beset by crises that it has won this symbolic award, a prize awarded to every single citizen, and not just to the EU’s institutions, let alone to their leaders. I see it as a sort of encouragement to stay true to the faith, to a winning formula. It is also a deliberate message to the world: this is a model for you all – be inspired!