In 2012, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Throughout its long history, Europe has hardly been the most peaceful place in the world. The 20th Century was a particularly bellicose period for the continent, and the European project emerged in response to that. For its supporters, the Nobel prize was recognition of the success the EU has had as a peace project.
However, the world does not feel very peaceful at the moment. Since 2012, we’ve seen the violent rise and fall of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar, and the civil war in Ukraine (not to mention continuing conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Darfur, Mexico, and many other parts of the world). Is violent conflict between and within states inevitable? Or can we make the world a more peaceful place?
What do our readers think? We had a comment from Sebastian who thinks the EU should be doing much more to make the world a safer, more peaceful place. There’s certainly plenty of chaos and uncertainty in the world today. Is there anything the EU can do to make the world more peaceful?
How can Europe promote peace around the world? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
Preserving and promoting peace, both internally and externally, is the most crucial fundamental objective of the European Union since its inception. Today, perhaps more than ever, we must be reminded that the European Union is about peace. In the past two decades, the EU has been called to deal with geopolitical changes that have fuelled numerous crisis and military conflicts, most of them still ongoing today – some in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood. In this new global context of increasing conflicts and widening destabilisation across several regions, the EU needs to live up to its reputation as a soft power organisation that promotes peace through democratic dialogue and deliberation. Indirect or even direct political and military interventions carried out in the name of “freedom, peace and democracy” have led to chaos and disaster around the world.
We cannot repeat the same mistakes all over again – and I’m saying this also in view of the current situation in Venezuela. In order to inspire and help others to share its fundamental values of peace, democracy and human rights, the EU needs to set an example by facilitating the nonviolent resolution of conflicts through dialogue. Of course, the most effective means to promote peace is to tackle the root causes of conflicts and war. We have to do more to fight global poverty and provide all necessary help and support whenever and wherever it is needed in order to build a sustainable social environment which allows people to live a life in dignity, so that they don’t have to flee to us putting their lives in danger. This is not only a matter of principled commitment, but it is also the most reliable way to ensure peace and stability in Europe itself.
Regarding EU security architecture: Global influence is shifting right before our eyes. Islamic terrorism, Russia’s assertive policy and the changing international situation have once again breathed new life into the discussion about European security architecture. The concerns that Europe needs to be more operative and strategically self-sufficient have revealed a clash of views between states that support the strengthening of transatlantic security cooperation within the NATO framework and those that believe the EU should achieve foreign-policy and security autonomy and serve as a counterpart to the USA.
I believe that the military aspects of security and defence should rest squarely with NATO. There is a complementary role for the European Union to work alongside and in coordination with NATO to secure peace and fight terrorism. But, we must never permit the EU to become an alternative, competitor or challenger to NATO.