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Today, with self-interest and pragmatism leading discussions in the European Union, we often take stability and peace for granted, but we need not look far beyond the borders of the European Union — to Ukraine, the Middle East, North Africa — to see how precious this stability is.

The treaty that first established what would become the EU set out to “resolve to substitute for age old rivalries the merging of their essential interests… to create the basis for community among peoples long divided by bloody conflicts”.

In 2012 the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its advancement of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights for over six decades in Europe.

In the European Union, conflicts are settled over a negotiating table or a debating chamber instead of a battlefield. The common market deepens our common interests; student exchange programmes bring young people together to study, not fight.

I am reminded of the words of (I think) a recent Finnish Prime Minister, who asked “What economic value do you place on an hour of peace?”.

Northern Ireland

The EU provides steadfast political and financial support to Northern Ireland to aid the peace programme.

Between 2007-2013 the EU’s PEACE III programme gave some €225m in funding to aid progress towards peace and a stable society in Northern Ireland.

Access to the single market through the EU has promoted economic development in the region. This development has been recognised in helping to underpin the peace process, furthering economic cooperation between the North and the Republic of Ireland.