EU’s Nobel guest list may be huge

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The president of the European Union wants the leaders of all 27 EU member nations to travel to Oslo to accept their Nobel Peace Prize together in December. That would present a huge security challenge for Norwegian police, and the Nobel Committee’s guest list likely will be curtailed.

The Nobel Peace Price ceremony is always a festive occasion in deepest, darkest December in Oslo. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

The committee normally allows prize winners to bring a number of guests with them for the traditional Peace Prize ceremony, which is always held on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. More than 30 persons, including heads of state and EU officials. plus their own staff and guests would be difficult for the Norwegian hosts to handle.

When the EU was named as this year’s winner, for its efforts to build fraternity among nations and maintain peace among EU members since World War II, it was initially unclear who would accept the prize on the EU’s behalf.

Now the man functioning as president of the EU’s European Council, Herman van Rompuy, has said he hopes all state or government leaders in the EU can join the celebration of the prize in Oslo in December. His remarks came as EU leaders gathered for a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

It emerged earlier in the week that the EU would send van Rompuy along with José Manuel Barroso, the president of the EU Commission, and Martin Schulz, the president of the EU Parliament, to Oslo. They would likely be invited to bring their spouses and some other guests as well.

Van Rompuy sent out a message on social media Thursday that to mark the occasion, he hoped “all” the EU’s state or government leaders could take part as well. That would include leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, setting off major security needs at least as massive as when US President Barack Obama traveled to Oslo to collect his prize in 2009.

“I think it’s a natural and inclusive gesture by Rompuy,” Johan Fredriksen of the Oslo Police District told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), “but the police must think about security, and we hope it will present the least possible challenge.”

EU officials always have a hectic schedule in December, with a summit already scheduled in Brussels from December 13-14. A gathering in Oslo just a few days may therefore be unrealistic.

“We’re in the early planning stages (for the ceremony security) and thought it looked fine that the top EU officials will come,” Fredriksen said. “But we will remain realistic about this, and deal with the assignment we get.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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