OVIEDO, Spain – The European Union, a project that has promoted political and economic integration in Europe since the end of World War II, won Spain’s prestigious Princess of Asturias Award for Concord on Wednesday.
The jury responsible for the Concord category, the last of eight Princess of Asturias categories to be bestowed in what was the organization’s 37th edition, chose the EU over 28 other nominations hailing from 16 different countries.
In a statement, the jury outlined its decision: “Sixty years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the EU represents a unique model of supranational political integration based on the peaceful, progressive and free association of its members.”
It continued: “The sum of various elements such as the common market (free movement of persons, goods, workers and capital), the single currency, regional, agricultural and trade policies, among others, and guarantees of stability, prosperity and respect for human rights evidence this fact.”
The leaders of the EU’s main institutions released a joint statement accepting the award and expressing their gratitude for their recognition.
The EU’s candidacy for the award was put forward by a Spanish member of the European Parliament, Jonas Fernandez, and received the backing of former prime ministers of Spain Felipe Gonzalez and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as well as former presidents of the EP Josep Borrell, Nicole Fontaine and Hans-Gert Pöttering.
It received further support from ex-president of the European Commission Joaquin Almunia and former presidents of Panama and Uruguay, Martin Torrijos and Julio Maria Sanguinetti.
A delegation is due to collect the award during a ceremony in October, which is to be presided by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain.
Former winners of this distinguished accolade include the first responders to the Fukushima disaster, the United Nations Children’s agency UNICEF and the author of the Harry Potter book series, J.K. Rowling.
This year marked the 60th anniversary of the signing of the EU’s founding document, the Treaty of Rome.
In 1957, West Germany, France, Italy and the so-called Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) came together to form the European Economic Community at a time when much of industrialized Europe was recovering from the ravages of World War II.
Over the decades and following the fall of the Communism across most of Eastern Europe, the EU grew to encompass 28 nations.
It introduced a common currency, free travel for EU citizens and workers as well as executive and judicial bodies to oversee its now 500 million inhabitants.
“The EU not only revolves around peace between nations but also constitutes a community of values based on freedom and justice,” the jury said.
It acknowledged, however, that the bloc would continue to face challenges such as finding an end to the economic and social crisis it has endured for several years since the 2008 global financial crash.
Its latest challenge, the jury said, would be the United Kingdom’s forthcoming withdrawal.