Who will collect Nobel peace prize for the EU?

Should it be EC president Jose Manuel Barroso, a choir of Croatian schoolchildren, or a weirdly shaped banana?

The EU faces a major headache in deciding who will collect the Nobel peace prize. As Henry Kissinger famously pointed out, when he asked: "Who do I call when I want to speak to Europe?", there are several pretenders for the job.

The obvious choice is José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission, and/or Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European council. Also a possible candidate is Katherine Ashton, the EU's British high representative and its "foreign minister". Or Martin Schulz, the European parliament president.

Thorbjørn Jagland, the head of the Oslo-based Nobel committee refused to say on Friday who he thought should fly to Norway to receive the prestigious gong. He said merely: "It's up to EU institutions to decide who will collect the gold medal and make a lecture."

The EU may prefer a more symbolic heavyweight choice, dispatching to Oslo instead a former European head of state. The leading candidate is surely former German chancellor Helmut Kohl. Kohl, after all, presided over the peaceful reunification of Germany and was a driving force behind the euro and deeper EU integration. The only drawback is Kohl's health: following a serious fall in 2008 he is confined to a wheelchair and has problems speaking.

Alternatively, the EU might come up with a cutesy solution worthy of Tony Blair, an ex-EU leader who is surely not on any shortlist. With Croatia about to join the union next year, becoming its 28th member, what better than a choir of photogenic Croatian schoolchildren? Or, perhaps, one child from each of the EU's states, dressed up in national costume, the UK representative coming as a mini-knight?

An unscientific appeal to Twitter yielded several interesting recommendations. Most were humorous. Some were unprintable. They included: "Nigel Farage", "Giscard d'Estaing?" "Golden Dawn" - the neo-Nazi Greek party - and "A weirdly shaped banana."


Luke Harding

The GuardianTramp

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