The European Union accepted Monday the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize with a commitment to honor the values for which it was awarded, and, in these times of crisis, to defend the euro as a symbol of unity.

"Today one of the most visible symbols of our unity is in everyone's hands. It is the euro, the currency of our European Union. We will stand by it," European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said.

Barroso, who closed the expressions of gratitude begun by EU President Herman Van Rompuy, said that "despite its imperfections, the European Union can be, and indeed is, a powerful inspiration for many around the world."

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were the focus of the event's most symbolic moment when they stood to a resounding ovation after the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjorn Jagland, pointed to the reconciliation of France and Germany as the seed of the current European Union.

"What this continent has achieved is truly fantastic, from being a continent of war to becoming a continent of peace," Jagland told the 21 EU heads of state and government attending the ceremony.

In the official delegation, made up of some 40 guests, were four Spaniards: Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, European Commission Vice President Joaquin Almunia, the president of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union, Ramon Luis Valcarcel, and young Ana Fanlo, winner of a contest for European youths, for which the prize was this trip to Oslo.

After the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize, which included a cash award of 930,000 euros (a little over $1.2 million) to be used to aid children who were the victims of wars and conflicts, a luncheon was presided by the Norwegian royal family. EFE