The European Union and its forerunners contributed "to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe," the committee said in a release.
The committee noted the Peace Prize had been awarded several times to people trying to seek reconciliation between Germany and France after World War II, and that the two countries fought three wars in 70 years.
"Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable," the release said. "This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners."
The European Union is experiencing "grave economic and considerable social unrest," but the committee wanted to focus on what it considered the organization's most important result -- the successful fight for peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights, the release said.
"The stabilizing part played by the EU," it said, "has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace."
The work of the EU represents "fraternity between nations," the committee said, and is representative of the "peace congresses" to which Alfred Nobel refers as criteria for the Peace Prize in his 1895 will.