UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Friday extended the \"sincere congratulations\" to the European Union (EU) on its receipt of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. \"On behalf of the entire United Nations family, I extend our sincere congratulations to the European Union on its receipt of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize,\" Ban said in a statement read to the press at a daily news briefing here by his spokesman Martin Nesirky. \"Today, an indispensable partner to the United Nations has been given a richly-deserved recognition of its accomplishments and its importance in Europe and around the world,\" the statement said. The EU was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for advancing \" peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,\" said Thorbjoen Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, in Oslo, earlier on Friday. After reviewing the recent history of EU integration and the plan to admit more members in the coming years, the citation said that the bloc \"is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest.\" \"The European Union has more than lived up to its founding dream of forging a united and peaceful continent out of the devastation of two world wars,\" the UN statement said. \"It has become an engine of integration, weaving together nations and cultures. Its achievement of peace within its borders, building on innovative mechanisms for dialogue and the rule of law, is a model to be emulated the world over. Its unifying potential is all the more important in today\'s economic climate.\" \"Today, the European Union plays a central role in helping to build peace, save lives, promote human rights and support economic and social development across the world,\" said the statement. \"At the United Nations, we count every day on the EU\'s involvement, its leadership and its contributions as we work to meet the most pressing challenges of our time,\" the statement said. \"These range from lifting billions out of poverty, extending life-saving development and humanitarian assistance, promoting human rights, to preventing conflict and building peace across the globe,\" the secretary-general said in the statement. \"I celebrate and look forward to deepening this enduring partnership.\"