The Nobel Prize Committee for the Nobel Prize in Literature once professed a bias towards European writers, but this now seems that it also prefers Europeans in the area of the Peace Prize. For 2012, the winner is very European: the European Union. While one could attest that the European Union, literally speaking, is destroying the Peace Prize, this is contrary to the truth. Instead of working towards the European Union’s Utopian goals, the Union has economically hindered much of the continent and set it up for even more despotism.

The committee’s reasoning for awarding the EU with the Peace Prize: is as follows:

“The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe …. The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe. Over a seventy-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars. Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable. This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners.”

The committee goes on to praise the European Union for admitting Greece, Portugal, Spain, and several formerly Communist nations. The crux of their admittance was introduction of democracy was a condition for their membership.” However, even these “accomplishments” are not the highlight of the EU.

This is not what the committee views as the most important element of the EU. Rather, the committee notes:

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. The stabilizing part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

The Nobel Prize committee is gravely mistaken about the EU.

World War II brought untold horrors upon the world. It is understandable that many who lived through this were desperately seeking a new order to preserve peace and promote prosperity, just as happened after the First World War. Though the idea of a united Europe had existed for quite some time before World War II, it was only afterwards that enduring measures were put into place. The first of these were economic in nature. More specifically, the economic aspects focused on were coal and steel, the required raw materials for war.

The European Union as we know it came into being in the early 1990’s, though many features of the EU were in existence before that. With the EU came even more unification of Europe, at least among its members. As noted, some measures were already in existence, such as economic controls or citizens of member states being able to travel into other member states by showing their passports, but soon a unified currency was developed. Governmental bodies of the EU, though, existed before this literal union was created.

The goal of the EU was to prevent another war on the scale of World War II. It is true that another World War II has not happened in Europe, but was the EU responsible for this? The economic controls implemented by the EU may have had something to do with deterring another great war, but a determined country would have been able to still mobilize for war by backing out of the union— just as Germany violated the Treaty of Versailles. But this alone did not prevent war. Even with the admittance of Spain and Portugal, the last such measure before the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union, many nations in Europe were not under EU control— Switzerland, Scandinavia, and all of Eastern Europe. Therefore, these nations, theoretically, could have started a war.

More than the “achievements” of the EU should be examined. Rather, the future consequences of their actions should be examined as well. Due to economic centralization, the EU will set itself up for collapse and failure, in addition to decreased prosperity. Greater political centralization serves to only lead to further erosion of liberty and freedom in Europe, as bigger government and liberty are incompatible. And the fruits of the larger, more intrusive and bureaucratic government are beginning to ripen. The financial collapses of many European nations have become flaming examples of collectivist government. Uncertainty and unrest are not calls for more EU control, but for freedom and complete decentralization.

Let us suppose that the EU continues to operate as it has so far done, and Europe continues to collapse and descend into unrest and violence. Eventually, some nations enter stages of civil war and revolutionaries rise to power in others. Perhaps some nations will intervene and re-organize the governments accordingly. Then, this process will continue perpetually continue. Is the goal of the EU? Yes, a world war is potentially avoided, but the unrest, surpression of liberty, destruction, and death continues.

A key flaw of the EU is that, by nature, it will continually strive to enlarge and grow in membership. Without this, there are external threats that may seek to harm the EU. Turkey is being considered for membership– what next? If the borders continue to expand (eventually engulfing all Europe), then why not also include the Caucasus nations (i.e. Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan), providing they meet and follow EU requirements? And why not the North African nations? Surely they would like to be part of the EU. The EU is just as any other government: it devours without limit.

From the financial collapses noted, it is clear that the liberal EU policies are just like any other form of collectivism. At first, everything is wonderful. The wealth is being redistributed, social welfare programs appear to be working, the political process moves smoothly, and workers retire early and comfortably. However, as this cannot be sustained, this near-Utopia lasts only for a short time. Soon the government demands more money and power. Then it becomes Greece.

The EU had a goal, a Europe without the horror of war and replaced with prosperity. That’s an honorable goal, but not realistic when orchestrated by the government. Free trade brings about economic cooperation, but also prevents wars. Recognizing the natural rights (life, property, and liberty) of all people also creates a society that is free, prosperous, and just, and it is free people that are the engines, not the government. Even in deterring way, free trade is much more effective than a central authority.

To solve her problems, the European Union must abandon her policies of control. Rather, the individual will be the savior or the EU, not the government. The Nobel Prize is but another element of a grand illusion that the EU must throw to the wayside. Governments will rise and fall, but, in the end, individuals remain.

Christian Lopac | Wabash College | @CLopac