Previous Charlemagne Youth Prize winners: where are they now?  

The 2011 winners of the Charlemagne Youth Prize received their award during a ceremony in Aachen © European Union 2011 - European Parliament 

The European Charlemagne Youth Prize is awarded to projects by young people that promote the development of a shared sense of European identity. The three winners of the 2012 Charlemagne Youth Prize will be announced on Tuesday 15 May in Aachen, Germany. We spoke to five previous winners and asked them what impact winning the prize has had on their lives.

How has winning the Charlemagne Youth Prize affected your life? 

Ilona Kotolácsi Mikóczy from Hungary: "New doors and horizons have opened. The prestigious award became our best letter of recommendation for inviting lecturers on the study tour, for applying for funds and for advertising our programme."

Chiara Palieri from Italy: "The Charlemagne Youth Prize has been the stepping stone to my success and my international activism, the absolutely glorious beginning of everything. From that moment on my life has been devoted to youth activism, youth empowerment and youth leadership."

Marie Terrier from France: "The Charlemagne Youth Prize made me and my association Acthea realise that our festival could reach a larger and more diversified public. It allowed us to raise our communication campaign and our credibility." 

John Holten from Ireland: "Winning changed how other people saw me and my organisation, Broken Dimanche Press. It made people realise that we are a European publishing house and not just a small enterprise in Berlin."

Julian Walkowiak from Austria: "Two incidents have changed my life. The first was when our website went public; the second was when I received the phone call from the EP telling me that I was going to Aachen. The Charlemagne Youth Prize makes you realise that the European idea is alive."

What do you do these days? Are you still involved in activities related to your winning project? 

Ilona Kotolácsi Mikóczy: I was in contact with several MEPs. One of them, vice president László Surján (Hungarian Christian-Democrat), became particularly active in the work of the Rakoczi Foundation and this turned into an invitation for me to work with him in the EP.

Chiara Palieri: "Today I am a globally recognised youth leader and speaker at high level global conferences. For example, I have been organising the simulation Model European Union for two years in Strasbourg."

Marie Terrier: "I am currently working in India, in the digital marketing field. It has given me love for international culture and communication."

John Holten: "I'm still very much involved in Broken Dimanche Press. You Are Here - the project that we won with - was our first book and we have gone on to make almost a dozen more."

Julian Walkowiak: "The idea of "Ride for your Rights!" was very well received and this year we are organising it at seven different locations in Europe, all at the same time".

What is your message to young Europeans with great ideas? Could the Charlemagne Youth Prize help them?

Chiara Palieri: "I totally recommend it to anyone whose passion and ambition are aimed at social good and a better Europe."

Julian Walkowiak: "Whatever idea you might have, speak up! Sometimes an idea seems insignificant at first and then it draws the attention of exactly those people who will assist you in making your idea come alive. The Charlemagne Youth Prize will give credibility to your idea and connect you with a vast pool of other agents of change in Europe."

All 26 national winners (Maltese was not submitted) and the three final laureates of the 2012 Charlemagne Youth Prize will receive their award on Tuesday 15 May in Aachen, by EP president Martin Schulz and a representative of the Foundation of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen.

The five winners and their projects 
  • Ilona Kotolácsi Mikóczy was the very first winner of the prize in 2008 with the Hungarian project "Students Without Boundaries"  
  • Chiara Palieri was a national winner in 2008 with the Italian project "European Friendship Train - The Youth Festival of Cultures" 
  • Marie Terrier won second prize with the French project "Festival Européen de Théâtre Universitaire d'Albi" in 2009 
  • John Holten won second prize in 2010 with the Irish project "You are Here" 
  • Julian Walkowiak was a national winner in 2011 with the Austrian project "Ride for your Rights! It's time to (ex)change your life"