European Union leaders have formally received the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.
The leaders of the three main EU institutions -- European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and European Parliament President Martin Schulz -- received the prize on behalf of the 27-member union at a ceremony in Oslo on December 10
The prize honors the EU's role in turning Europe "from a continent of war to a continent of peace."
Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland presented the prize and cited the role of the EU in maintaining peace on a continent ravaged by two global conflicts
"For Europe, where both world wars had broken out, the new internationalism had to be a binding commitment," he said. "It had to build on enforceable principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law; and on economic cooperation aimed at making the countries equal partners in the European marketplace. By these means the countries would be bound together so as to make new wars impossible."
Jagland maintained that the EU has constantly been a central driving force in regional and global processes of reconciliation. He added that the EU has helped to bring about a "fraternity between nations."
"We are not gathered here today in the belief that the EU is perfect," he said. "We are gathered in the belief that here in Europe we must solve our problems together. For that purpose we need institutions that can make the necessary compromises. We need institutions to ensure that both nation-states and individuals exercise self-control and moderation. In a world with so many dangers compromise, self-control, and moderation are the principal needs of the 21st century."
Critics of the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision argue that the EU, moving from crisis to crisis, is undeserving of the prize.
Jagland, however, rejected such criticism and emphasized that the EU's role is central in getting through the current economic turmoil.
"In the light of the financial crisis that is affecting so many innocent people, we can see that the political framework in which the Union is rooted is more important than ever," he said. "We must stand together. We have collective responsibility. Without this European cooperation, the result might easily have been new protectionism, new nationalism, with the risk that the ground gained would be lost.
Many EU heads of state and government attended the ceremony on December.
The prize money of 930,000 euros ($1.25 million) will be given to projects that help children struggling in war zones.
With reporting by Reuters