Polanski accepted his nods for European director and European screenwriter (shared with Robert Harris) live via Skype from his home in Paris. The Oscar-winner is unable to safely travel outside France, Switzerland or Poland because the U.S. still has a warrant out for his arrest on sex charges dating back to the 1970s.
"I want to thank all my European peers" Polanski said, adding that "The Ghost Writer," a German-French-British co-production was "a truly European film."
The elephant in the room -- Polanski's arrest, imprisonment and month-long extradition battle with U.S. authorities -- went unmentioned as Europe's Film Academy gathered round to celebrate the 77-year-old director.
McGregor, currently in Thailand shooting tsunami-themed feature "The Impossible," accepted his prize via a taped speech in which he signaled out Polanksi for thanks, saying "he is as much deserving of this award as me."
The honors were spread wide for "The Ghost Writer", with composer Alexandre Desplat taking the European composer nod for his haunting score and the film's Albrecht Konrad getting the European film nod for his production design.
But it wasn't a clean sweep for Polanski and "The Ghost Writer."
Israeli anti-war film "Lebanon" won two trophies: the European Discovery honor for best debut feature and the Carlo Di Palma European Cinematographer Award for Giora Bejach.
French actress Sylvie Testud won best European actress for her potrayal as a crippled Catholic hoping for healing in Jessica Hausner's "Lourdes."
Luc Barnier and Marion Monnier snapped the European editor nod for their rapid-fire cutting of Olivier Assayas' terrorist epic "Carlos."
Sylvain Chomet, whose "Triplets of Bellevill"e was nominated for an Oscar, picked up a EFA best animated feature award for his latest, Jacques Tati-inspired feature The Illusionist. Chilean director Patricio Guzman won the best European documentary honor for his political, and poetic "Nostalgia for the Light."
The winners of the 23rd European Film Awards are:
The Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
Sylvie Testud, Lourdes
Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski, Robert Harris, The Ghost Writer
People's Choice Award
Carlo Di Palma European Cinematographer Award
Giora Bejach, Lebanon
Luc Barnier, Marion Monnier, Carlos
European Production Designer
Albrecht Konrad, The Ghost Writer
Alexandre Desplat, The Ghost Writer
European Discovery - Prix Fipresci
European Film Academy Documentary - Prix Arte
Nostalgia for the Light
European Film Academy Animated Feature Film
Lifetime Achievement Award
Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan
European Achievement in World Cinema
Composer Gabriel Yared
European Film Academy Short Film
– The Hollywood Reporter