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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize for its long-term role in uniting the continent, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said on Friday, an award seen as a morale boost for the bloc as it struggles to resolve its debt crisis.
Following are reactions to the award:
"It is a wise and far-sighted decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union this year. I am very pleased at this decision. The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 for the EU is above all a confirmation for the European peace project.
"It is also encouragement for all of us, to continue on the path to a united Europe, that is to say, to stick to the ever closer ties on our continent and to develop Europe despite some difficulties and problems which must yet be overcome.
"As Europeans we all have reason to be proud today. I am proud, and I wish for God's blessing for us on our further path to a united Europe."
"Europe carries on despite the crises. It's not a long calm river, but it is consolidating.
"I think all the heads of state and populations will take this award as an encouragement. I am very emotional. The last three decades have been very difficult."
"Let me congratulate the European Union on its Nobel Peace Prize. Certainly it is quite remarkable to see how unified and peaceful Europe is in the 21st Century and that did not happen by coincidence. It happened because of the very hard work and dedication of leaders and citizens across Europe."
"That is a fantastic decision which makes me proud and happy. European integration is the most successful project for peace in history.
"Freedom and Peace have grown out of the ruins of two devastating world wars and erstwhile enemies became good friends and inseparable partners.
"The Nobel Prize is a great incentive at this particular moment in time to solve our own problems, to be an example with our European model of cooperation and to strengthen our European efforts for a peaceful evolution of the world."
"Europe, a continent that was once taken apart by terrible wars, is thanks to the European Union today a symbol of peaceful debate and conflict resolution to the whole world."
MARTIN CALLANAN, LEADER OF THE EUROSCEPTIC CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS PARTY IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
"The Nobel committee is a little late for an April fool's joke. Twenty years ago this prize would have been sycophantic but maybe more justified. Today it is downright out of touch.
"Presumably this prize is for the peace and harmony on the streets of Athens and Madrid."
FREDERIK HEFFERMEHL, OUTSPOKEN NORWEGIAN CRITIC OF NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
"This is the most striking example of the prize having been appropriated by the Norwegian political elite. The elite have no interest in Nobel."
"They'll be cheering in Athens tonight, won't they."
"Is this a joke?"
"It mocks us and what we are going through right now. All it will do is infuriate people here."
"I am delighted at the news that the European Union has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of its work on reconciliation, democracy, promotion of human rights and in enlarging the area of peace and stability across the continent.
"In the countries of the EU, historic enemies have become close partners and friends."
"The European Union has played a vital role in healing the wounds of history and promoting peace, reconciliation and cooperation across Europe.
"It has contributed to the advancement of freedom, democracy and human rights across the continent and beyond."
"Europe got through two civil wars in the 20th century and we have established peace thanks to the European Union. So the European Union is the biggest peacemaker in history."
"The values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights are absolutely fundamental to the European Union. These fundamental values underpin all of the European Union's activities both internally and in our external policies.
"Several nations are freely negotiating accession to the European Union, a sign that despite challenging economic conditions, the European Union is a magnet for stability, prosperity and democracy.
"The EU's principles and values of reconciliation can serve as an inspiration to other regions in the world. From the Balkans to the Caucasus, the EU serves as a beacon for democracy and reconciliation."
"The European Jewish communities have felt the many evolutions, revolutions and convulsions on our continent.
"The Nobel Peace Prize sends a very strong message that the European Union's achievements of turning a continent that has known so much bloodshed and conflict now deals with its challenges in a peaceful and tolerant manner."
"It is right that this extraordinary effort that has been accomplished by the Europeans and their leaders to establish a lasting peace on their continent - historically ravaged by war - is rewarded and honored."
"It's one of the most intelligent awards that has been given and it surely is a celebration and an official recommendation for the importance that the European Union has in keeping world peace, especially in Europe."
"Excellent that EU is given the prize now. It reminds us all of the key importance of integration for peace, freedom and prosperity."
"Worth noting that Nobel Committee says EU enlargement policies with Balkans and Turkey key part of its contribution to peace."
Reporting by Reuters newsrooms; Editing by Myra MacDonald