German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been awarded Europe's prestigious Charlemagne Prize for her efforts to promote European unity.
In a ceremony Thursday attended by other European heads of state, Ms. Merkel said the foundations of the European Union have been renewed, ahead of EU elections set for next year.
Twelve member states have already ratified the so-called Treaty of Lisbon, which streamlines union operations. Ireland votes in June on the treaty, which must be ratified by all 27 member-states to take effect.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised the German leader's efforts to promote EU unity during Germany's recent stint chairing the union's rotating presidency. Speaking at the ceremony in Aachen, he said Ms. Merkel's leadership made the difference.
The Charlemagne prize, first awarded in 1950, is named after the eighth-century ruler who united a vast region of Europe, stretching from France to northern Germany.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.