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From 1997 onwards there has been an exchange of ideas between German and French colleagues on the following topic: due to the various legal systems in European countries there are great differences in the respective educational systems. Stonemasons and sculptors are particularly able to work together to promote the culture in this occupation. Centuries ago there was already a European network of masons' lodges including an excellent training system. This is the origin of a feeling of identity in a craft that is deeply rooted in the history of many eras and is still obvious today. However, if an intellectual ideal was only copied, it would lose its exemplary function. In Europe which is getting closer together, there is a chance of working on a common target and to promote it for the use and profit of society. This was the reason why a meeting at the Meisterschule für Steinmetze und Steinbildhauer (Master Craftsmen's School for Stonemasons and Sculptors) was initiated at the Dombauhütte St. Maria zur Wiese in Soest.

This first meeting took place on 21-08-1998 on issues concerning advanced vocational training and the master craftsman's examination in this craft and it was called Soester Runde (Soest Talks). The Soester Meisterschule für Steinmetze und Bildhauer and the Compagnons du Devoir from France decided to cooperate with the aim to work on European training and advanced training standards on a high level. Creativity and frankness were determined as decisive factors with the following conditions:
1.) unconditioned acceptance of all European colleagues concerning their work and their social and cultural significance in the respective countries and their legal systems;
2.) common strive for permanently improving quality in teaching skills and knowledge and their assessment.

At the 2nd Soest Talks on 18-5-1999 4 nations came together as an "International Forum for Vocational Training and Culture in the Stonemasons' Craft in Europe". The national vocational schools of Slovakia and South Tyrol/Italy joined our meeting. Topics discussed were political trends in crafts in Europe and possibilities of cooperation. The following became evident:
1.) graduation in the craft is a problem which will not solve itself;
2.) no country alone can offer a patent remedy for all other countries.
3.) however, this issue can be promoted by useful cooperation on a European level.

At the 3rd Soest Talks on 25/26-08-2000 8 European nations were present, new participants were: the Gotland Mason's Lodge from Sweden, the Federal Craft Guild of Stonemasons and the HTL-Hallein from Austria, The President of the Stonemasons' Association from Hungary and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts from Belgium. There were several important impulses, e.g.:
1.) a European-wide "Master of Craft" must be created, an equivalent to the ´Master of Science´;
2.) the craft must make more use of "good" expressions by integrating words such as quality, youth, self-realisation, etc. on a European level.
3.) it was agreed to set up "European recommendations" in this matter for the future.

At the 4th Soest Talks on 5/6-10-2001 the draft of the set up recommendations, which were put together by a team of experts from 16 different European countries, was discussed, further worked on and agreed upon as the "Charter of Soest" it was then decided to publish it.

The 5th Soest Talks took place at the Basle Münster Cathedral (the “Münster) in Switzerland from 27 to 28 September 2002. The Chairman pointed to the possibility of passage of a charter recommending the creation of a European Master of Craft on an international level, to bear that in mind as a final thought of the meeting and to observe the development and to react, if necessary. The participants unanimously agreed to aim for the goal of creating a European association.

At the 6th Soest Talks in Brussels at the UEAPME, the EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF BUILDING CRAFTS AND DESIGN, EACD, was constituted, articles of association were passed and the 1st general assembly was held.
Shortly after that, the new association was informed that they could use an ensemble of castles in Lower Bavaria as places for international training. For this reason, Michael Hauck and Hermann Fuchsberger set up an exemplary and high quality educational project for the EACD considering all crafts concerned.

At the EACD general assembly on the island of Brac in Croatia on 14 May 2004 the foundation was laid for further development. The members were considering on the one hand a big training centre and on the other the option of various smaller European training schemes.

The general assembly at Visby on Gotland/Sweden stated that funds for the renovation of the castles would not be available. It was decided to make a draft for a pilot project, an innovative European training scheme for a European Master of Craft and to further discuss this matter on an international level.

At the general assembly at Laas/South Tyrol on 9 July 2006, 10 aspirants were selected from the applicants and sent on a European tour by the EACD and at the end of this tour they will be granted the title of a EUROPEAN MASTER OF CRAFT. The different places of training are the EACD members: Münsterbauhütte Basle / Switzerland; Dombauhütte Cologne and Dombauhütte Soest / Germany; Steinfachschule Laas, South Tyrol/Italy; Steinzentrum Hotavlje / Slovenia; Landesberufsschule Brac / Croatia; Dombauhütte Vienna and SteinWelt /Austria.

In Slovenia, on 07June 2007, the general assembly saw the successful beginning and course of the European Tour. In connection with the improvement of the EU directive for the recognition of professional qualifications, this initiative of the EACD was mentioned by politicians and representatives of trade as an excellent example. The general assembly unanimously accepted a resolution of the board to support the establishment of a competence centre in Riga for our trade in the regions around the Baltic Sea. Furthermore, plans for a 1st international colloquium for tombstone culture in Europe were started.

Five years after it was set up, and ten years after the start of the “Soester Runde”, the EACD convened for its annual meeting in Luxemburg on November 15th. The main topic of discussion was the imminent end of the educational tour for stonemasons through Europe, which leads to the qualification of Master of Craft ®. After the president had consulted the plenary meeting, the chairman of the advisory committee’s proposal to carry out a second such educational venture was unanimously accepted. Likewise, the financing and publishing of documentation on the tour in book form was also agreed upon. With regard to an envisaged colloquium on the culture of burial sites, there was a report on the plans of various organisations, as these plans were taking place in parallel. In contrast, the EACD has no financial interests regarding individual sectors which compete with one another on the market, but occupies itself with these based on interest in their matter and substance.

The sixth module of the European tour ended in Brussels on February 17 th and 18 th, 2009. The six candidates had prepared themselves by means of texts, sketches and photographs. The UEAPME kindly made its rooms available to the EACD. Following the lectures and discussions, receptions were held in the European Parliament and the Commissariat for General and Vocational Educational, Culture and Youth by EU Commissioner Ján Figel’. On the way there, the delegation consisting of the chairmanship, candidates, representatives of the educational stations and also guests transported a stone slab made of Anröchter dolomite into which, around 100 million years ago, a fossilised ammonite had been deposited. Embedded in the slab is the emblem of the European Master of Craft ®, in marble stones, which were metamorphically crystallised around 60 million years ago. The EACD’s walk through Brussels concluded with prayers.

From September 24 to 26, the EACD convened for its 2009 annual meeting in London and Canterbury. One of the principal themes was the on-going production of documentation in book form of the first educational tour, which has been completed, and the financing of this. The president, in his function as the publisher, received a certain amount of support with regard to the latter point. Furthermore, it was clear that there were more people who were interested in taking part in the planned second tour leading to a European Master of Craft than had originally been expected. For this reason, the decision was taken to begin this step in February 2010 so that the group of participants and, if appropriate, the stations, can be expanded.
The venue for the meeting, in which a new committee was elected, was the administrative building of the Cathedral lodge in Canterbury. An impressive additional programme which included a tour of this marvellous cathedral and its building sites and workshops rounded the day off.
Prior to this, the EACD was welcomed at a reception in the Carpenters’ Hall in the historic centre of London. The Carpenters’ Company, the meeting’s superb host, maintains the Building Crafts College, and the participants looked around this as well as around the newly-erected reconstruction of the Globe Theatre in London. The final event was the passing of the Charter of London which, as in the Charta von Soest 2001, calls for a Master of Craft in the field of carpentry, which is to be set up in future.

Prof. Dr. Barbara Schock-Werner, master cathedral builder and chair of the EACD advisory council, had issued an invitation to attend the 2010 plenary meeting in Cologne Cathedral. In spite of the many problems which volcanic ash from Iceland had caused to air travel, representatives from 10 countries came to the meeting, which took place on April 24th. It was with great satisfaction that the group established that the book published about the first educational tour leading to the qualification of "Master of Craft" had been safely financed, including by numerous exceptional donations.
For the start of the second EACD tour, on January 30th, 10 selected new beneficiaries of sponsorship for the "Master" course, from six countries, met each other for the first time. The decision was taken that places in Great Britain, France and Northern Europe should be added to this second tour. In addition, the content of the course is to include "thinking outside the box" by having the participants study parts of crafts which are related to their own profession. Furthermore, in future the EACD will also embrace activities in Europe's academic fields.

In June 2010, the EACD met for an extended committee meeting in the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway. Together with the Cathedral Workshop, master cathedral builder Lene Landsem joined the EACD. In Trondheim, the Cathedral workshops cooperate closely with the nearby university, which offers a course leading to the "Bachelor of Restoration". There was continued lively discussion during the plenary meeting as to whether the EACD is to, and can, organise an international colloquy dealing with burial culture. It is clear that this topic represents many issues connected with the skills and knowledge of design-related crafts. Any preparations are undertaken from an observational point of view in ways which are non-commercial and are transnational, interreligious, intercultural, across a range of scientific considerations, etc. In addition, there were initial thoughts of setting up an international colloquium to examine the education and culture of the fields of occupation which can join the EACD.

Endeavours and developments can combine and find their own special form of expression, as happened in Vienna from September 8 to 9 during the annual meeting. First the Federal Guild Of Austrian Master Stonemasons held a splendid evening reception for the EACD. The meeting itself then took place in Schloss Schönbrunn. New full members were accepted, for example the VEUKO, which, by means of a Charter of Luxembourg based on the EACD's Charter of Soest, had previously ratified the Europe-wide call for a Master of Craft. One highlight for the EACD was the official reception in the Austrian Parliament by the President of the Federal Council, who played a magnificent role in this year's annual meeting. The EACD president was permitted to bestow two important honours in the Council Hall. This was followed by a marvellous premiere performance of the EACD hymn. A convivial evening meal in the Palais Epstein and a tour of St Stephan's Cathedral the next day rounded off the meeting. While the meeting in Vienna was taking place, two important parallel events were taking place elsewhere. This was because, at the same time, the alumni of the second EMC tour were continuing their studies in new training venues - excellently organised - in Canterbury, London and Lincoln, in Rodez and Trondheim. Concerning the setting up and publishing of a book on the certification of "Master 2012", it was unanimously and at the same time decided in Vienna to document this measure.

With regard to the Annual Meeting in 2012, the Compagnons du Devoir have issued an invitation to Troyes. This meeting reflected two important developments: on the one hand, the plenary meeting appreciated the report about the very successful second EACD European Master of Craft ® European Tour and its splendid outcome. The educational stations were extended to include three more, bringing the whole number to eight countries. It was agreed that a third event would be organised, to start in 2013. The next months will be devoted to documenting and producing a book about the second tour. The other important event was the election to appoint a new Chairmanship. The Meeting agreed to implement in its entirety the proposal that the Chairmanship had previously agreed at its meeting in Vitoria, in the Basque Country. With regard to its enlargement, the EACD has now appointed a new and larger Chairmanship. In addition to the Master title qualification it is now possible to build up a partial programme of professional development activities.

The 2013 EACD annual meeting was held at the Hotel Sorea Regia in the Slovak capital of Bratislava. The National Guild of Stove-Fitters (member of the European umbrella association VEUKO) and the Slovakian Federation of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry acted as hosts. A national effort to promote individual training and professional mobility was expressed in the welcoming speech. During the plenary meeting the EACD Secretary retired from office due to a career change. The EACD thanked him for his engagement. In accordance with the President's right to nominate candidates, EACD unanimously appointed a new Secretary General. New members could also be accepted. The report of the Treasurer was greeted with particular acclaim; even after financing the second book (EACD only had to bear a small part of the financing) the association's finances are in good shape as ever. The preparations for further Master Tours, a third for stonemasons and a first for stove-fitters, are continuing. It was also unanimously agreed to strengthen public relations and to collectively increase funding efforts.

At the meeting of the EACD in Munich on May 9, 2014, a new president was unanimously elected. The acting President had resigned from his organisation, which is a member of EACD, and a new representative has been appointed from this organisation.
Moreover, the documentation of the second Master Tour (2010-2012) was officially released by the EACD Committee and accordingly celebrated with the 6 authors and the entire EMC group.

On 8 November 2014 a meeting in a very exceptional light took place in Strasbourg. Two other organisations met up with the EACD for a service: 94 yr-old Father Donatus Leicher o.p. as the oldest member of the EACD Advisory Board gave a sermon in honour of the Four Holy Crowned Ones (Quattro Coronati) in the Cathedral. Of course, the visit became even more special due to the historical fact that the Strasbourg cathedral stonemasons’ workshop was at the heart of the medieval stonemasons’ workshop organization. Maybe this was what inspired the decision to extend the circle of workshops within the EADC in the near future. On 17 April 2015 the EACD Chairmanship in Pisa, Italy, decided that, in addition to the Master Tour, on European level precious craft skills that have become rare will be demonstrated by individual apprentice training examples, and will in future also be currently documented and recorded.

As the 2015 General Assembly on Brač, the Croatian island with its famous school of stonemasonry, several important decisions were taken with regard to the future. Besides an interesting factual and cultural framework programme a meeting with theofficial elections took place. The progress of the previous 3rd European Tour by aspiring masters was noted on this occasion and plans for its continuation in 2016 were considered. The completion, including examination and certification, of this tour will take place in spring 2017, in Jerusalem. On Brač Island, 5 cathedral stonemasonry workshops were admitted as new EACD members. Furthermore, a working group was formed for a special project.

10 ans avant l'assemblée générale de 2016, également à Laas/Tyrol du Sud, la 1ère tournée de formation international a débuté à la réunion annuelle de l'EACD. 2 ans auparavant, en 2004, le maître de cathédrale de Soest, initiateur depuis 1998 et co-fondateur de l'EACD en 2003, a fait enregistrer le diplôme de « European master of craft® » au Bureau de l'Union Européenne pour l'Harmonisation. Ceci nous a permis de contribuer de façon positive au cours des 10 dernières années avec deux mesures de formation exemplaires sous la forme de tournées exclusives à travers l'Europe dans des sites spéciaux pour l'histoire de la construction, à la fois en ce qui concerne la directive européenne sur la reconnaissance des qualifications professionnelles, et ensuite pour établir les cadres de qualification correspondants. Avant la réunion des membres en 2016, le comité directeur a déterminé le lieu, la date et le programme pour la conclusion de la 3ème tournée en 2017. Sur l'invitation du président, l'ancien président, qui exerce encore ses fonctions au sein du Comité de certification, a pris la parole, rappelant aux personnes présentes entre autres la fondation et le développement de l'EACD basés sur la courtoisie et le respect ainsi que sur la confiance et la fiabilité. En outre, les participants ont pu profiter d'un agréable programme préparé soigneusement par leurs hôtes, et célébrer ainsi cette petite commémoration des « 10 ans de la certification du Master of craft® », comme morceau d'histoire contemporaine artisanale marquée avec la convivialité qu'il se doit.

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