Over the years, the pioneering project has swelled to encompass 27 countries which not long ago sat on either side of the "iron curtain".
They came to the table with vastly different economic, social and cultural situations, but following intense integration efforts, a full 17 of them now share a common currency.
This year's prize will also cause shockwaves in host country Norway, which itself has rejected joining the union twice, in 1972 and 1994, and where three quarters of the inhabitants today say they are opposed to membership, according to recent polls.
Committee president Thorbjoern Jagland, who is also the secretary general of the Council of Europe, is known to be a fervent supporter of the EU.
He told reporters Friday he did not expect the prize pick to be controversial in Norway.
"It is possible to be opposed to Norwegian EU membership and at the same time acknowledge the peace-creating role EU has had in Europe," he said.
Despite the bloc's deepening difficulties, its tumultuous history shows that, until now at least, the EU has always managed to survive crises, often strengthening its integration in the process.