Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
10 December, 2012
Dear Ambassadors, Dear Colleagues and Friends:
I would like, first of all, to thank Ambassador Spatolisano for gathering us here today.
This is a great occasion. We are here to witness together the delivery of the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 to the European Union, in recognition to its contribution “to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.
This is indeed a remarkable happening. I am sure that Jean Monnet, Robert Shuman, Winston Churchill, Konrad Adenauer, De Gasperi, Ortega y Gasset and all the other founding fathers of European integration must be somewhere also celebrating with big smiles this meaningful moment.
Let me tell you why I think this award is so important. Let’s put this Nobel Peace Prize in perspective: This amazing European Continent, the nest of admirable civilizations and cultural movements, has also been, since the very first days and until not so long ago, a source of constant wars.
And I make this point because this is capital to understanding the significance of today’s event. Only seven decades ago, Europe was still engaged in one of the most terrible wars in history. And here we are today, only sixty seven years after the conflict ended, celebrating the European Union as the most important contribution to peace, reconciliation and human rights in the world. This is amazing.
What made this possible? What was the master plan that put an end to thousands of years of wars and turned Europe into a safe haven of democracy and peace? The answer is the European Union. The European integration project. The most remarkable and successful innovation in the history of international relations.
The European Union is much more than a regional economic integration project. The EU has provided a solid framework for burying forever old rivalries and with that, the possibility of armed conflict in Europe.
From the reconciliation between France and Germany, to the peaceful metamorphosis of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, German re-unification and peace efforts in the Balkan region, the European Union and its institutions have played a strategic role in consolidating peace, democracy and human rights.
The EU has also been instrumental in the resolution of other key issues, such as the peace process in Northern Ireland, the incorporation of former members of the Warsaw Pact, the peaceful separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
These are just a few examples of a much longer list. And if you add the impressive display of peace and humanitarian missions funded by the EU beyond its borders then you come up with a remarkable contribution.
Even with all its interminable negotiations, complex procedures, and current economic challenges, the EU is a success because it has taught us how to turn lifetime enemies into lifetime partners. It has taught us that it is possible to say to war “never again”! That it is possible to share sovereignty. And that borders exist most of all in our imagination; that borders can turn into bridges for common prosperity.
I want therefore to celebrate this amazing happening with a message that Monsieur Jean Monnet “has asked me” to pass to you; a message that was actually at the roots of this Nobel Prize:
"There is no real peace in Europe, if the states are reconstituted on a basis of national sovereignty. (…) They must have larger markets. Their prosperity is impossible, unless the States of Europe form themselves in a European Federation."
So, Ambassador Spatolisano, dear friends, let us toast to the European Union. Since the very beginning in the 1950s, the OECD has been contributing in many ways to this process, and it will continue to do so in the years to come!