The Nobel Peace Prize will be brought into "disrepute" by its award to the European Union, the UK Independence Party (Ukip) has warned.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the EU, far from bringing peace and harmony to Europe, was actually resulting in "violence and division" in euro nations such as Spain and Greece.

The Norwegian committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize said the EU would be its next recipient in recognition of its six decades of contributions "to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".

Its citation focused on the EU's historical role in the aftermath of the Second World War, but many observers were astonished by the decision given the deep divisions that have emerged in response to the financial crisis of recent years.

Mr Farage, whose party campaigns for the UK to leave the EU, said: "You only have to open your eyes to see the increasing violence and division within the EU which is caused by the euro project.

"Spain is on the verge of a bailout, with senior military figures warning that the army may have to intervene in Catalonia. In Greece people are starving and abandoning their children through desperate poverty and never a week goes by that we don't see riots and protests in capital cities against the troika and the economic prison they have imposed.

"The next stage is to abandon the nation state: the awarding of this prize to the EU brings it into disrepute. The last attempt in Europe to impose a new flag, currency and nationality on separate states was called Yugoslavia. The EU is repeating the same tragic mistake.

"Rather than bring peace and harmony, the EU will cause insurgency and violence."

Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland acknowledged that the EU was facing "grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest".

But he went on: "The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU's most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights. The stabilising part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace."