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EU critics slam Nobel Peace Prize decision

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"Haven't they had their eyes open?" he said, arguing that Europe was facing "increasing violence and division," with mass protests from Madrid to Athens over tax hikes and job cuts and growing resentment of Germany, the union's rich and powerful economic anchor.

And Dutch populist lawmaker Geert Wilders scoffed: "Nobel prize for the EU. At a time (when) Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next?"

The sound of one hand clapping

Britain, which has been an EU member since the 1970s but likes to keep an English Channel-wide distance between itself and the union, gave a muted reaction. Prime Minister David Cameron's office had no comment — a safe policy for the leader of a Conservative Party deeply divided between pro- and anti-EU camps.

The Foreign Office noted, tersely, that the award "recognizes the EU's historic role in promoting peace and reconciliation in Europe, particularly through its enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe. The EU must always strive to preserve and strengthen those achievements."

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