Recollection becomes a particularly fond occupation when there is apprehension about the future. Norway might reason that the glorious achievements of the European Union over close to six decades provided the reason for the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the organization this year. But that cannot hide its jitteriness about the future of EU and thereby that of Europe, a concern it has not been able to obfuscate by its dripping admiration for the EU. Norway is not a member of the EU, but it knows what the rest of Europe also knows. It is obvious that the economic recession is straining the EU at the seams, the austerity drive opening up threatening vistas about the member-states coiling back into isolationism and predatory politics. The rise of the rightist forces in most of the member-nations undergoing economic hardships and the growing voice of jingoist nationalism make this fear real. The Nobel committee has drawn attention to this fear while stating clearly that it has no intention of saving the euro. The idea is to count the gains made by the EU, not the recent losses because unless that is done, far greater loss is in store for Europe.
None can deny that there is substance in this message although there will remain countless doubts over the EUís claims on a peace legacy, particularly given its shameful role in the war in Yugoslavia and its entanglements in the more recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. However, it can be pointed out that peace had never been the central mission of the organization, whose chief aim had been to draw countries of the continent into the closest possible economic linkage through a common currency, trade and commerce. Peace was the by-product of this mission, and the fact that France is able to cohabit with Germany in the Union is proof of that. There may be problems with the EUís bureaucratic stranglehold over member-countries, which sometimes have no direct control over their economic policies. Visiting officials of the organization may even have to witness black flag protests at times. But the total absence of this overbearing authority is not something Europe can look forward to. Despite its limitations, the EU provides a soft cushion for bad economic landings and, as a neighbourhood toughie, can still counter the marauding influence of some other global powers.