EU to donate Nobel Prize money to children in war zones

BRUSSELS Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:47am EST

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will donate the money from its Nobel Peace Prize to create projects for children in war zones, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

The 27-member bloc won the Nobel last month for promoting peace, democracy and human rights over six decades, uniting the continent after two world wars in which tens of millions died.

It was awarded prize money of 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.18 million). The traditional 18-carat-gold medal featuring Alfred Nobel's profile and a Nobel diploma will be kept by EU institutions on behalf of the EU.

"Since children are the future of any society and at the same time among the most vulnerable, the peace dividend the European Union is receiving should be "invested" in those children who are the victims of violent conflict," the Commission said in a statement.

Some Europeans have said the prize comes at the wrong time, with many of them suffering from the worst economic downturn in decades, blamed partly on the constraints of monetary union and the fiscal austerity promoted by the bloc's executive.

The regional bloc is set to receive the prize in a ceremony in Oslo on December 10. Three people will collect the award, representing each of the EU's main institutions.

European Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Parliament President Martin Schulz will all fly to the Norwegian capital.

The details and selection process for the children's projects will be decided in the coming weeks.

The last time the prize went solely to an organization was in 1999, when emergency aid group Medecins Sans Frontiers won the award. Usually when an organization is recognized, an individual is also named.

(Reporting By Ethan Bilby; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)