The European Union has received this year's Nobel Peace Prize for turning Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace” in the six decades following World War Two.
Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland presented the award Monday to EU President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
The committee credited the 27-nation bloc for being a stabilizing player throughout the last 60 years that have seen Western and Eastern Europe rejoined following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the settling of ethnically based national conflicts.
But critics say the European Union is undeserving of the prize as it suffers from political division and social unrest, triggered mainly by the continent's ongoing economic crisis. Campaign groups also have drawn attention to human rights issues in Europe, including discrimination against Roma and Islamophobia.
About 200 people marched through the Norwegian capital Sunday to protest against the EU being awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.
Peace activists who joined Sunday's protest said they do not reject the cause of European integration, but view the union as undeserving of a peace prize that was meant to honor contributions to disarmament. Many were also angry with the way the EU has handled the continent's financial crisis, especially in Greece where the government has approved deeply unpopular austerity measures in an effort to secure foreign loans.