The European Economic and Social Committee’s President, Staffan Nilsson, was in Oslo’s city hall this midday (see picture), part of the European Union’s delegation, there to witness the bestowal of the Nobel Peace Prize. I watched part of the ceremony live and found it immensely moving. A lot of critical comment has been expressed about the award of the prize to the EU but, surely, the prize is entirely appropriate this time (and I do not mean that arrogantly – the prize was, after all, awarded to all Europeans). As Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, put it, “What this continent has achieved is truly fantastic, from being a continent of war to becoming a continent of peace.” Those determined to be irritated will surely have been provoked by the likening, in European Council President Herman Van Rompuy’s acceptance remarks, of the EU to the emerging US. But, as I blogged over the summer, particularly when I was in Washington, I think there are growing similarities and we would do well to study American history and be enlightened by it. Yes, as Van Rompuy said, the current economic crisis is “putting the political bonds of our union to the test,” but, echoing Lincoln, “what is being assessed today is whether that union, or any union so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” The Union, Van Rompuy concluded, will “answer with our deeds, confident we will succeed.” And that is because, to echo Jean Monnet, we are determined to do so. Our President’s presence was a symbolic recognition that European civil society and civil society organisations have played their part in this magnificent achievement.