BRUSSELS The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize for its long-term role in uniting the continent, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said on Friday, an award seen as morale boost for the bloc as it struggles to resolve its debt crisis.
Following are reactions to the award:
MARTIN CALLANAN, LEADER OF THE EUROSCEPTIC CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS PARTY IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
"The Nobel committee is a little late for an April fools joke. Twenty years ago this prize would have been sycophantic but maybe more justified. Today it is downright out of touch.
"Presumably this prize is for the peace and harmony on the streets of Athens and Madrid.
"The EU's policies have exacerbated the fallout of the financial crisis and led to social unrest that we haven't seen for a generation.
"The Nobel Peace Prize was devalued when it was given to newly-elected Barack Obama. By giving the prize to the EU the Nobel committee has undermined the excellent work of the other deserving winners of this prize."
FREDERIK HEFFERMEHL, OUTSPOKEN NORWEIGAN CRITIC OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
"This is the most striking example of the prize having been appropriated by the Norwegian political elite. The elite have no interest in Nobel."
FORMER GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER HANS-DIETRICH GENSCHER
"Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union is a particularly happy and significant decision. It honors the peace-fostering role of European togetherness, which has fostered peace for the European continent and for other regions of the world.
"The awarding of the peace prize is also a clear signal to those in Europe, who in alluding to supposed national interests, endanger the work of European unity."
BRITAIN'S OPPOSITION FINANCE SPOKESMAN ED BALLS
"They'll be cheering in Athens tonight, won't they."
DANISH EUROPE MINISTER NICOLAI WAMMEN
"We can of course laugh at this, and there are many problems in the EU. It is certainly not a perfect union but it is a strong message that a lot has gone right also since the creation of the EU."
EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF CATHERINE ASHTON
"I am delighted at the news that the European Union has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of its work on reconciliation, democracy, promotion of human rights and in enlarging the area of peace and stability across the continent.
"In the countries of the EU, historic enemies have become close partners and friends.
"I am proud to be part of continuing this work. The creation of the European External Action Service has enabled us to develop a comprehensive approach to better promote Europe's core values throughout the world.
"I will continue to work tirelessly to drive this process forward."
NATO SECRETARY GENERAL ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN
"I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the European Union on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
"The European Union has played a vital role in healing the wounds of history and promoting peace, reconciliation and cooperation across Europe.
"It has contributed to the advancement of freedom, democracy and human rights across the continent and beyond.
"From the outset, NATO and the European Union have shared common values and helped shape the new Europe. The European Union is a unique and essential partner for NATO. I look forward to strengthening our strategic partnership further, as agreed by our two organizations, to promote peace, stability and security."
EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY
"We are all very proud that the efforts of the EU for keeping the peace in Europe are rewarded.
"Europe got through two civil wars in the 20th century and we have established peace thanks to the European Union. So the European Union is the biggest peacemaker in history."
EU ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER OLLI REHN
"Despite some gloom in the economy in Europe, still this is a great day for Europe. This Nobel Peace Prize has apparently been awarded for the contribution of the European Union over the past 60 years to the peace and reconciliation and democracy and human rights. I am very proud of these European values which are also universal human values. This is a proud day for every European."
PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MARTIN SCHULZ
"This Nobel Peace Prize is for all EU citizens. We in the European Parliament are deeply touched. The European Union has reunited the continent through peaceful means and brought arch enemies together. This historic act of reunification has been rightfully recognized.
"The values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights are absolutely fundamental to the European Union. These fundamental values underpin all of the European Union's activities both internally and in our external policies.
"Several nations are freely negotiating accession to the European Union, a sign that despite challenging economic conditions, the European Union is a magnet for stability, prosperity and democracy.
"The EU's principles and values of reconciliation can serve as an inspiration to other regions in the world. From the Balkans to the Caucasus, the EU serves as a beacon for democracy and reconciliation."
UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY LEADER NIGEL FARAGE
"This goes to show that the Norwegians really do have a sense of humor. The EU may be getting the booby prize for peace because it sure hasn't created prosperity. The EU has created poverty and unemployment for millions.
"In the last two years the EU has caused huge animosity between the countries of Northern and Southern Europe. Just look at Frau Merkel being welcomed with Nazi flags in Athens, and German newspapers slagging off the Greeks as work-shy wonders.
"After watching European Council President Van Rompuy cheerleading for war in Libya with Colonel Gaddafi, this idea of the EU getting a Nobel Peace is ridiculous."
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JOSE MANUEL BARROSO ON TWITTER, WHERE HE HAS 14,900 FOLLOWERS AND RISING:
"It is a great honor for the whole of the EU, all 500 million citizens, to be awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize."
FORMER GERMAN CHANCELLOR GERHARD SCHROEDER
"This is an important and right decision by the Nobel Prize Committee and a big encouragement for the people in Europe. It comes at the right time for closer togetherness in Europe and it strengthens those powers that are pushing for closer integration in the European Union.
"It's a clear rejection of nationalism and the sole pursuit of national interest. The Nobel Prize Committee deserves respect for this decision.
"And all levels of decision making in the European Union must take this high award as incentive to continue with their fullest power the path to closer integration.
"In this way the European Union can serve as a role model for other regions for a socially, economically, culturally and politically successful community."
FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT VALERY GISCARD D'ESTAING
"It is right that this extraordinary effort that has been accomplished by the Europeans and their leaders to establish a lasting peace on their continent - historically ravaged by war - is rewarded and honored."
CARL DEVOS, POLITICS PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GHENT
"It's one of the most intelligent awards that has been given and it surely is a celebration and an official recommendation for the importance that the European Union has in keeping world peace, especially in Europe.
"Secondly they have exported a way of making compromises of trying to avoid conflict, of trying to keep talking with each other that you can call a European recipe or a European way of doing business, or a European way of settling conflicts, not by using force like some other regions or world leaders have done.
"As a military force, the European Union is quite weak and it has used that disadvantage to turn it into an advantage and to show the world that you can be important and have influence by just talking and negotiating and renegotiating with people."
(Reporting by Reuters newsrooms)