EU presidents Herman van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso managed to keep straight faces today as they picked up the Nobel Peace Prize.
In a year of crippling spending cuts that has seen police cracking protesters' heads, the Nobel committee awarded the 27-country bloc the award for turning "a continent of war to a continent of peace" after the second world war.
Hundreds of Norwegians welcomed the 20 government heads who turned up for the lavish two-day ceremony with a torch-lit protest against the award.
Polls estimate that around 60 per cent of Norwegians are against the EU being awarded the prize and the country has twice voted to stay out of the bloc.
European Commission president Barroso said: "You can count on our efforts to fight for lasting peace, freedom and justice in Europe and in the world."
But back in the real world campaigners pointed to glaring hypocrisy of the EU accepting the prize.
Amnesty European Institutions director Nicolas Beger said: "Xenophobia and intolerance are on the rise throughout Europe and growing numbers of political leaders are promoting anti-Muslim, anti-Roma, anti-migrant and anti-LGBTI messages and enjoying increasing popularity.
"Europeans are in danger of forgetting some hard-learnt lessons from their past about the importance of not relinquishing human rights and the rule of law which protect individuals from persecution."
Peace prize laureates Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquivel have all demanded the bloc get no money because it contradicts the values of the prize.
But Scottish Campaign Against Euro Federalism secretary John Foster told the Star that the EU was continuing Alfred Nobel's policy of using his business power to enforce its world monopoly on dynamite sales "on a much bigger scale."
He said: "The EU's pro-big business policies have created massive regional disparities, have directly undermined democratic institutions and reduced a significant sections of the population to poverty and despair."
He pointed to Mr Barroso's trumpeting of a common foreign and security policy capable of deploying military missions in November.
"The EU creates conditions for war not peace," Mr Foster said.
The £750,000 prize money will go to a children's charity.
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