The 43 winners of the European Citizen's Prize 2013 attended an official event in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday at the European Parliament, where they met its President Martin Schulz. They had already received medals of honour in their own countries.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz told the winners: "The Citizen's Prize is exceptionally important for the European Parliament and EU citizens. You men and women represent the best, which is what we need in the European Union more than anything else. Cross-border cooperation is the best solution to our problems. There are growing numbers of voters voting for parties which want to destroy the EU project. You are the real heroes in the fight for EU integration."
Since 2008, the prize has been awarded to citizens or organisations who have contributed to promoting better mutual understanding and closer integration among citizens or to facilitating cross-border or transnational cooperation within the EU. The winners had already received a medal of honour at award ceremonies in their countries.
During the two-day event, the winners met Mr Schulz and received a diploma. They also attended the opening by Parliament's Vice-President Anni Podimata of an exhibition presenting the 2013 winners.
After the award ceremony, this year's oldest winner, Mr Boris Pahor, a Slovenian writer who celebrates his 100th birthday this year, gave a short speech.
The winners were selected on Wednesday 5 June by a Chancellery in Brussels, chaired by Vice-President Anni PODIMATA (S&D, EL). The Members of the Chancellery are: Vice-Presidents Alexander ALVARO (ALDE, DE), Isabelle DURANT (GREENS/EFA, BE), Othmar KARAS (EPP, AT) and László SURJÁN (EPP, HU), Former EP Presidents Hans-Gert PÖTTERING (EPP, DE) and Enrique BARÒN CRESPO and Annemarie Jorritsma, Co-President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, and Peter Matjašič, President of the European Youth Forum.