When, six months ago, I completed a 35-year career entirely devoted to the EU's external relations policy, I felt that I had been one of the many foot soldiers in charge of promoting the EU’s values around the world. I had been working for, what one of my interlocutors in a non-EU country is calling “the largest peace project in the world”. This is exactly what it means in today's tense world. This is precisely what the Nobel Peace Prize is meant to say.

When I think of my childhood in the south of France in the 1950s, I can safely say that, back then, most adults around me, family and friends, were still reliving the pains and atrocities of the Second World War. They could hardly imagine a reconciled Europe, a continent where intra-European wars would have become impossible. This has been achieved, day after day, treaty after treaty, with patience and tenacity. I have had the immense privilege of working with some of the architects of this formidable enterprise: Jacques Delors, Claude Cheysson, Simone Veil, Romano Prodi, and Jerzy Buzek, to mention only those who are not in positions of responsibility anymore.

This Nobel Peace Prize is a testament to the wisdom of many European leaders and to the people of Europe who supported them. It should also be a source of inspiration for today's leaders when they chart the future of the European Union, from its economic policy to its enlargement policy, from projecting peace abroad to supporting democratic societies around the world. The European Union may have achieved peace at home, but it still shoulders an immense responsibility outside its borders.