French President Emmanuel Macron has been awarded the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen “in recognition of his vision of a new Europe.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted Macron outside Aachen’s cathedral just before celebrations got under way.

Awarded by the city of Aachen, the first city in western Germany to be liberated during the Second World War, the prize honours work performed in the service of the European community. It has been handed out every year since 1950.

It is named after the emperor Charlemagne, ruler of the Franks, who united large parts of France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium. He was buried at Aachen.

Other people who have received the prize include Current European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Popes Francis and John Paul II, former European Parliament president Martin Schulz, EU founding father Robert Schuman, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former UK prime minister Winston Churchill, the entire European Commission in 1969 and in 1986 the people of Luxembourg.

In Aachen, Macron is also taking part in a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has begun in the German city of Aachen.

This is the first meeting of the leaders of the Normandy Four countries for quite a long period of time. However, the parties do not call it a “Normandy meeting.” The task is to agree on a common position with which Merkel will travel to Sochi on May 18 and Macron will leave for Russia later. It concerns, in particular, the prospects for the deployment of a peacekeeping force to Donbas.

In addition, Western partners intend to discuss with Poroshenko the progress of reforms in Ukraine.