António Guterres, Charlemagne Prize Laureate 2019 | © Helmut Rüland
As its latest project, the Charlemagne Prize Academy is part of a distinctive development of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen, which is the oldest and most renowned prize awarded for work done in the service of European unification. The laureates of the Charlemagne Prize are a vivid reflection of the history of the unification process. The political founding fathers of a united Europe have all been acknowledged, as have the bearers of hope for enlargement and consolidation of European unity, those responsible for democratic institutions, key players in the reunification of East and West, and European thinkers, doers and sources of inspiration, such as – most recently – Antonió Guterres (2019), Emanuel Macron (2018) or Timothy Garton Ash (2017). (All Charlemagne Prize Laureates can be found here.)
Building upon the intention to promote outstanding work for social progress and mutual understanding, the Charlemagne Prize Academy aims to connect new ideas and thoughts about future issues on Europe with the current approaches of global decision makers. The main goal will be to consider a wide range of perspectives, to involve different generations and social backgrounds, and to establish a scientific base for popular discourse, by supporting potential and creative thinking - irrespective of political agendas.
History of the Charlemagne Prize of Aachen
The International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen has been awarded to individuals and institutions that have made a valuable contribution to Europe since 1950. The Prize was founded by citizens under the leadership of Aachen businessman Kurt Pfeiffer. Its aim was to give important stimulus towards the political, economic and spiritual unification of the continent and thus to promote European integration by the first political prize in the recently established Federal Republic of Germany.
Richard Nikolaus Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, first Charlemagne Prize Laureate of 1950, at the Award Ceremony of Konrad Adenauer 1954
The first presentation of the Prize (to Count Coudenhove-Kalergi) left a lasting impression and inspired the Charlemagne Prize Board of Directors to take an even bolder part. The conferring of the Prize to Italian Prime Minister Alcide de Gasperi 1952 was the international breakthrough. A large number of outstanding personalities and political leaders followed the Italian laureate and were honoured in Aachen. Thus, the Prize has continuously gained international prestige.
Today the Charlemagne Prize is one of the most distinguished political awards in Europe. Its original Western-European focus is now trying to encompass all facets of European integration: the idea of comprehensively joining Europe together, the teaching of values, the protection of natural resources, the North-South divide and its effect within the EU as well as with respect to the globalized world we live in.
Charlemagne Youth Prize Winners 2019, on stage with Charlemagne Prize Laureate António Guterres
Since 1991, the Charlemagne Prize has developed rapidly regarding the intention to create public access to European topics in course of a large cultural and political programme as part of the award ceremony. 2008, Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, then President of the European Parliament, and André Leysen, then Chairman of the Charlemagne Prize Foundation, jointly initiated the European Charlemagne Youth Prize, which is an important part of the overall Prize until today, awarding youth projects of all EU Member States.
Now, already involving Europe’s decision makers and Europe’s youth, the Charlemagne Prize wants to develop its access to the academic debate on future issues, which are constantly impacting the political debates in society. Therefore, the next step of development will be to focus on research funding and topic related exchange that will promote progress and connect new findings with the concerns of our time.
Find out more about the historical development of the Charlemagne Prize here.