European Parliament President Martin Schulz is the latest International Charlemagne Prize laureate.
He received the medallion in recognition of his contribution towards European unification by strengthening the parliament and democracy in the EU.
The ceremony in the Germany city of Aachen, host President Joachim Gauck noted, comes at a time when trust in the success of the EU is wavering.
Schultz said: “I wanted to become President of the European Parliament to open the doors and the windows of the EU so people can look inside, see what goes on, so that they understand it, see who does what. That is the only way we can regain the trust we have lost.”
French President François Hollande and Jordan’s King Abdullah were in the audience.
As a young man, Schulz wanted to become a pro footballer. The son of a policeman worked his way to owning a bookshop in Würselen, was elected the town’s mayor, and after that was voted a European Parliament member.