Britney's recovery continued at the Liverpool Echo Arena ceremony as she claimed the best album prize for Blackout and overcame the likes of Coldplay, Leona Lewis and Amy Winehouse to be named the act of 2008.
US rockers 30 Seconds to Mars also claimed two awards while Katy Perry - who hosted the ceremony - was named best new act.
Having taken to the stage at the 2006 EMAs after losing out in the best video category, Kanye West was more gracious this year as he was awarded the Ultimate Urban prize.
"Thank you to MTV, this award is for my mother. I love all my fans- thank you," said the Stronger star.
Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney was given a huge reception as he accepted the Ultimate Legend prize, after an introductory speech by U2 frontman Bono.
These MTV awards are great and glamorous occasions, but on behalf of all the artists in this room, I will tell you something: I think we all suspect someday when all of us are gone and this great hall is no longer here, we sense, we fear our names will be forgotten," the Irish singer said.
"There is one person in this hall tonight whose songs we know will be here now and forever.
"There is one person in this hall tonight whose work is immortal. There is only one Paul McCartney."
After accepting the award, Sir Paul said: "I don't know what to do after an introduction like that."
He went on to thanks his friends, family and "my mates Ringo, George and John".
"Many years ago, four little boys were born here in Liverpool and we went on to do quite well," he added.
"So thanks, as I say, to all my family, to all of you for coming along, everyone in Liverpool, everyone in Britain, everyone in America - for voting in Mr Obama. I love you!"
In the biggest shock of the night, 80s popstar Rick Astley won the best act ever award, an audience-voted prize.
Though he was unable to attend the ceremony, Astley said in a statement: "I am honoured that my fans worked so hard to help me win best act ever,
"This is the first time I have been nominated for the EMAs and I would like to thank everyone who voted for me."
Acts who performed at the ceremony - attended by more than 10,000 people - included Beyonce, The Killers and Take That.
The winners of the 2008 MTV Europe Music awards were:Album of the Year
Britney Spears - Blackout
Most addictive track
Pink So What
Act of 2008
30 Seconds to Mars
Best Act Ever
Sir Paul McCartney