The European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for six decades of work in advancing peace in Europe.
The committee said the EU had helped to transform Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.
The award comes as the EU faces the biggest financial crisis of its 54-year history, with many of its member states mired in recession.
The last organization to be given the award outright was Medecins Sans Frontieres, which won in 1999.
Announcing the award, Nobel committee president Thorbjoern Jagland acknowledged the EU’s current financial problems and social unrest.
But he said the committee wanted to concentrate on the body’s work over six decades of advancing “peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights”.
Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said he was “deeply touched and honored” with the award.
Martin Schulz, the current president of the European Parliament, has criticized the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
On German television network ARD, Martin Schulz said of the treaty: “I don’t find it good in its current form.”
Martin Schulz’s comments followed mass protests across Europe against the agreement.
Demonstrations took place at the weekend in various countries including Germany, Poland, UK and Romania.
Martin Schulz said that the balance between copyright protection and the individual rights of internet users “is only very inadequately anchored in this agreement”.
Supporters of the agreement insist it will not create new laws and is necessary to standardize copyright protection measures.
ACTA is set to be debated in the European Parliament in June.
Martin Schulz, the current president of the European Parliament, has criticized the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
Although countries can individually enforce the agreement, the EU will need to play a role if the treaty is to be effective in enforcing intellectual property protection across several countries.
So far, the treaty has been signed by 22 EU member states.
However, Germany has held off from backing the agreement, citing the need for “further discussion”.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said his country would wait for “sufficient consultation” before ratifying, following huge protests and disruption to several government websites.
Earlier this month, Slovenia’s ambassador to Japan, Helena Drnovsek Zorko, apologized for her “carelessness” in signing the treaty on behalf of her country.
Martin Schulz’s comments are a sign that ACTA is in “real political trouble”, according to Loz Kaye, leader of the Pirate Party UK.
“One of the things that’s very interesting is that now the ACTA agreement is coming under fire from all sides,” he said.
“It’s becoming clear that European citizens are very concerned about this agreement. It’s hard to find anyone who is standing up for it right now.”
A spokesperson for the International Trademark Association said that ACTA offers a chance for the EU to “thwart” the problem of counterfeit goods.
“ACTA is aimed at counterfeiters and pirates involved with commercial scale activities on the Internet, not the general user,” the spokeswoman said.
“Too many criminals profit from selling counterfeit goods on the Internet at the expense of consumers’ health and safety.
“The trade agreement is an opportunity for EU officials to help thwart this problem, and they can do so by adopting ACTA and joining the international battle against counterfeiting.”