Pax Europaea

Pax Europaea (English: the European peace after the historical Pax Romana), is the period of relative peace experienced by Europe in the period following World War II—often associated above all with the creation of the European Union (EU) and its predecessors.[1] After the Cold War this peace was even more evident because of the fall in political tensions, with the major exception of the Yugoslav Wars and various tensions with and within Russia. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Historic enlargement of the EU and its predecessors.


Transatlantic cooperation and European integration was designed to maintain the fragile peace that was created in Europe. With the continent consistently falling into war over the past centuries the creation of the European Communities in the 1950s set to integrate its members to such an extent that war between them would be impossible. These Communities, and other organisations including NATO expanded to cover most of Western Europe, Northern Europe and Southern Europe. Although Central and Eastern Europe remained under Soviet influence, they too experienced little conflict, with the major exception of internal repression, until the 1990s when a series of wars in Yugoslavia broke out as the country disintegrated. The EU structures were criticised for its inability to prevent the conflict, though the zone is now within its sphere of enlargement.

The EU now comprises 27 countries with majority of European non-member states seeking membership (twelve countries joined the EU in 2000s). In addition to that, most countries which remain outside are tied to the EU by economic agreements and treaties such as the European Economic Area. Within the zone of integration, there has been no conflict since 1945, making it the longest period of peace on the western European mainland since Pax Romana.

The European Union was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to maintain and actively foster peace within its borders as well as internationally through diplomatic means.[2]

Even though a number of armed conflicts occurred on the European peninsula after World War II, none of them have been between members of the European Union. Most of these conflicts have taken place in the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union.

List of wars

List of wars in Europe during the post-WW2 period

Wars involving European countries during the post-WW2 period

See also


  1. Tsoukalis, Loukas (2005). What Kind of Europe?. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-927948-7.
  2. Herman Van Rompuy; José Manuel Durão Barroso (10 December 2012). "From War to Peace: A European Tale". Nobel Lecture by the European Union. Retrieved 4 January 2014.