Emmanuel Macron receives Charlemagne Prize for European unity in Aachen


French President Emmanuel Macron was recognized for his contributions to European cohesion and integration on Thursday, as he was set to receive the Charlemagne Prize in the German city of Aachen.
In his acceptance speech, Macron is expected to outline his long-term plans for Europe, urging the audience to look ahead to the state of the European Union in 2030 or 2050.
The bishop of Aachen, Helmut Dieser, opened the ceremony in Aachen's Cathedral, congratulating Macron for winning last year's French presidential election on a pro-European platform. "We therefore offer you all our respect and gratitude," the bishop said.
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The Board of Directors for the Charlemagne Prize said they were honoring Macron "in recognition of his vision of a new Europe" and his "decisive stance" against nationalism and isolationism.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted Macron outside Aachen's cathedral just before celebrations got under way. Merkel is scheduled to also give a speech in Macron's honor.
Other prominent guests included the heads of government from Spain, Luxembourg and Bulgaria. Also in attendance were last year's prize winner, British historian Timothy Garten Ash, and former German Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz, who won the award in 2015.
The annual Charlemagne prize commends public figures who promote European unity. It is named after the founder of the Holy Roman Empire, who launched a series of wars and political reforms to build a continental European empire. Charlemagne was crowned at Aachen in the year 800.
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Award premature?
In interview with DW on Wedneday, Macron said he had "a lot of hope" that the two sides would agree on a common EU plan. "I think that the chancellor and her government are going to join us in this historic moment and work together for a stronger Europe and a more united and more sovereign and more democratic Europe," the French President said.
A study published on Wednesday by German broadcaster ARD found that a majority of Germans support Macron's proposed EU reforms, but thought that his plans for deepening EU economic and financial cooperation went too far.
Political analysts, however, were not hesitant to point that Macron's award comes despite his proposed EU reforms having so far gained little traction.
Macron has made a series of prospective EU reforms one of the focal points of his presidency. Notable goals include the creation of a common eurozone budget and European finance minister post, a joint military "rapid reaction force," and a new EU tax regime targeting internet technology giants.
However, the French president has far from won unamimos support for his lofty policy plans. His ambitions for the eurozone face particularly stiff resistance from Germany, and especially from within Merkel's own conservative Christian Democratic party.
Nevertheless, Macron and Merkel have promised to present a common roadmap on the future of the EU ahead of the next major leaders' summit in Brussels in June.