The awards – which are
strictly limited in terms of
numbers – are known as the
“Mérite européen”. They consist of the “grand collier”, the
“collier”, the gold, silver and bronze medals and the “diplôme
d’honneur” and “diplôme de reconnaissance”. They are intended to
reward those who have made a significant contribution to the
objectives of the Foundation over and above their purely
professional achievements. They symbolise, we should remember,
“tribute paid to the struggle for the Union of peoples in freedom,
peace and fraternity” and are a concrete expression of adherence to
the Foundation’s motto “Wanting Europe, knowing its problems and
acting to achieve it”.
"Le Grand Collier"
These awards are:
“grand collier”, of which
only one has been awarded, at a prestigious academic ceremony in
2010, to mark the Foundation’s 40th anniversary, to HRH Grand Duke
Henri of Luxembourg, who accepted it, on behalf of the Luxembourg
people, for their commitment to Europe.
a very high-level award, only one of which
is awarded annually to an eminent figure who embodies, in an
exemplary and exceptional manner, the Foundation’s motto.
awarded for the first time on the occasion of the Foundation’s 40th
anniversary and, by way of exception, to four major European
Buzek, President of the European Parliament, Herman Van Rompuy,
President of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso, President of
the European Commission, and Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of
Luxembourg and President of the Eurogroup. In 2012 it was awarded to
Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the
European Central Bank.
A very small number of
gold, silver and
bronze medals is
awarded every year to people who have made a significant
contribution to the Foundation’s aims.
and “diplôme de
reconnaissance” meet the
same objective of recognising merit.
In the first 43 years of
the Foundation’s history the most eminent figures from various
fields – political, economic, humanist, scientific and cultural –
were honoured for their struggle “for the union of the peoples of
Europe, in freedom, peace and fraternity”, but also for their
contribution to the development of European values.
They include: Simone Veil,
former Minister and President of the European Parliament, Viviane
Reding, former European Commissioner, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former
Head of the Polish Government, Franz König, Archbishop Emeritus of
Vienna, Wilfried Martens, former Prime Minister of Belgium and
President of the Parti populaire européen, Michel Rocard, Edward
Heath and Pierre Werner, former Prime Ministers, Roy Jenkins, Gaston
Thorn, Jacques Santer and José Manuel Barroso, successive former
Presidents of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, former
Luxembourg Prime Minister and President of the Eurogroup and current
President of the European Commission, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former
German Foreign Minister, Martin Gray, internationally renowned
humanist, Avi Primor, Israel’s former Ambassador to Germany, Hans-Gert
Pöttering and Klaus Hänsch, former Presidents of the European
Parliament, Kai-Uwe von Hassel, former President of the Deutscher
Bundestag and founder of the German Circle of European Merit, Gao
Xingjian, artist, writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 2000, Ferran Adrià, voted the world’s top chef for
five years, Herman Van Rompuy, first President of the European
Council, Jean-Claude Trichet, former President of the European
Central Bank, Sir Brian Unwin and Philippe Maystadt, former Presidents
of the European Investment Bank, Lord Norman Foster, internationally
renowned British architect and one of the leading exponents of high
tech. architecture .
The cities of Santiago de
Compostela and Strasbourg also received awards for their historic
European past, which they actively project into the present.
Equally deserving of a
mention are those (often anonymous) working at grass-roots level to
promote the European idea, such as Liane Vissers van’t Hof, a
secondary school teacher in the Netherlands who made an excellent
film on Europe, with her students as the only actors, or Berendina
van Sminia, who set up in the Netherlands a European Parliament of
young people, which was highly successful in many European Union
Member States. In Belgium mention should be made of people such as
Mr and Mrs Edmond Warichet, geography and economics teachers
respectively at a celebrated secondary school. They are the only
couple to have received an award from the Fondation du Mérite
européen for the example they have set, as they have each year both
devoted some of their lessons to Europe, on a par with other
subjects, for they believe that this should be part of the process
of learning about European citizenship. It is also worth mentioning
a number of schools that have received awards for their activities
and their commitment to Europe or people such as the musician who
reworked the European anthem.