|European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso speaks after the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize at EU headquarters in Brussels, capital of Belgium, Oct. 12, 2012.(Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
BRUSSELS, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- The award of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union (EU) was "a tremendous honor" and "the strongest possible recognition" of its efforts to shape a continent of peace and prosperity, top leaders of EU institutions said here on Friday.
"It is a prize not just for the project and the institutions, but for the 500 million citizens living in the union," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a joint statement.
"The EU has reunified the continent through peaceful means and brought arch enemies together. This historic act of reunification has been rightfully recognized," European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a separate statement.
The EU was awarded the prize on Friday morning in Oslo for its key role in transforming most of Europe from "a continent of wars" to "a continent of peace," said Thorbjoen Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
The prize came as the EU has been dealing with the eurozone debt crisis for almost three years, the most challenging crisis since the bloc had a starting point with the coal and steel community in the 1950s.