The announcement that the Nobel Peace Prize will go to the European Union was good news, signifying a well deserved tribute in the long term and timely encouragement to the troubled organization in the short run.
After centuries of bloody warfare characterized relations among European countries prior to 1945, the new era of cooperation under the EU has made an effective case for the award. Prior to the EU, the continent was scarred and damaged regularly by wars that not only destroyed European countries, but also spread conflict to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America.
The EU's 27 member countries, however, have fought no wars with each other. Through more than six decades, the governments and peoples of those countries have renounced that method of solving problems between them.
Democracy also has spread across Europe with the EU's expansion. The troubled Balkan states that emerged from the 1990s breakup of the former Yugoslavia are one by one being folded into the EU, forcing them to deal with each other in civilized fashion, healing wounds and, eventually, bringing the balm of economic development.
The EU's short-term problems stem from the fact that it has tried to bring prosperity to its members. Today there is an internal conflict in the union between its more well-to-do northern members, led by Germany, and the poorer, generally southern tier, led by Greece but also including Greek Cyprus, Ireland and Portugal, with Italy and Spain hovering outside the door of the European Central Bank.
All in all, in spite of these issues, the EU and its leaders should take great pride in the Nobel Committee's recognition of what it has achieved. The challenges will continue, but its leaders' diligence in applying themselves to addressing them will persist and eventually prevail.