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Manuscript for a brief talk entitled "Thoughts on the future of stonemasons in Europe" at the meeting of the "Landesinnungsverband Baden des Bildhauer- und Steinmetzhandwerk e.V." on November 8th, on QUATTRO CORONATI day, in remembrance of the "4 Gekrönten" (4 crowned heads) in Freiburg/Breisgau, from Jürgen Prigl

Before starting to prepare for this talk, I remembered a sentence which I read in Freiburg, where I lived for twelve years before I followed my calling to Soest as a result of the international tender: "The stonemason's craft is noble on its own – even God's laws were written in stone".

Father Donatus, you – together with Sepp Jakob – played a vital role in my professional career, and I eagerly read your treatise on "The heavenly patrons of the stonemasons". What I found especially fascinating was the information about the Greeks, because that wise man Socrates was also a stonemason.

Friedolf Fehr, Land guild master, we are meeting for the first time in person, so to speak, but when it comes to important documents, we appeared together three years ago. This was certainly an important kind of meeting, and it acts as a doorway to a highlight which I intend to set up today.

Your call to me at the end of 2003 (two thousand and three) played its part in ensuring that when the "Craft Regulation Act" was revised, at the conclusion of all the negotiations on the part of the mediation committee of the German Bundestag – the Lower House of the German Parliament – and the Bundesrat – the Upper House - the stonemason's craft was transferred from Appendix B to Appendix A.

So, it is a fact that, whether people approve or not - you stonemasons are representatives of a full craft!

This is the case in Germany! That is the next important point.

Because, in many other countries in Europe, this is not the case at all!

We find the greatest similarity in regulating crafts in Austria, Luxembourg and in South Tyrol, where there are special regulations. Other countries, such as Hungary, are attempting to set up a similar system. To summarise, we can say that in some countries there are no crafts as such, in some they exist, but without master craftsman status, and in German-speaking Europe there exists a Craft Regulation Act in which both are regulated.

German-speaking Europe is that which includes the greatest number of people in Europe, which, admittedly, in view of the spirit of Europe, is something to which not too much importance can be attached, and in no way, which is most important, can descend into German jingoism.

To return to the revisions of the 2003 Craft Regulation Act: a plausible aim on the part of the politicians, both on the right and on the left, was to make the German Craft Regulation Act into something which is suitable for tomorrow's Europe.

You will have noticed that I am moving in a particular direction, namely a legal, social one. At this point I could say something about what the stonemason's craft has achieved in Europe – our large churches, minsters and cathedrals to which people make pilgrimages as tourists because these buildings continue to be infinitely attractive, because they are symbols with which the people of their nations can identify. They are what stonemasons created, and for me, as someone who was responsible for a Cathedral workshop, it would be easy to talk for hours, authentically, without any trace of kitsch whatsoever. But there are more important matters for me to talk about:

In addition to a healthy getting-rid of what is out-of-date, the process of globalisation also contains the risk of serious losses. Yet it also contains opportunities for designing.

Here in Soest, we have tried in recent years to thematise the subject of the master craftsman in the stonemason's craft in Europe. One of the many reasons for this is, in my opinion, that this craft is especially qualified in this respect: as long ago as the Middle Ages, an international network developed with the system of the Cathedral workshops. This is a fascinating aspect in an age in which Europe is coming together, but is in no way intended as an opportunity for copying and nostalgia.

The stonemasons are qualified on the basis of the depth of their knowledge and skills! Whether this applies to all those who bear this job title is of no importance here, because magnificent buildings, creative design, complicated masonry and carving are still with us, and the skills continue to exist.

In a European group of stonemasons linked by friendship, and of influential people who think highly of stonemasons, on July 9th of this year we deliberately – and without using any public funds – set up a pilot scheme which the aim of creating a EUROPEAN MASTER OF CRAFT. The preparatory work took place during the past few years and has its advocates.

While preparing the initiative I have just mentioned, I became aware of something I would like to tell you about, something I have involved myself in. It is legalese, so something that creative people have problems with. It involves a great amount of paper, and I have tried to work through the essence of it.

It deals with:
Guideline 2005/36/EC of the European parliament of the European Council dated September 7th, 2005 on the recommendation of the Commission according to the representation of the European Economic and Social Committee in accordance with the process of Article 251 of the agreement considering reasons relating to the "recognition of professional qualifications“.

In this guideline, together with many others, the professions in Europe are arranged on a total of five levels, and I will give you some examples of the contents:

"a", the first level, is evidenced by the existence of general knowledge and skills on the basis of general primary and secondary schooling.

Level "b" is evidenced by a certificate following completion of general secondary education together with the requirement of a practical course of training in a profession.

And I will tell you now: according to this guideline, which is to come into force in October 2007, which means next year, the stonemason – including the master stonemason - is in this second lowest category!

"c", the third level, is evidenced by a certificate following completion of a post-secondary level of education for which entitlement to study at a university is a condition of entrance.

Level "d" represents completion of a 3-to-4 year course of study at a university or polytechnic, and

level "e" represents a course of studies taking at least four years.

This means that a master craftsman is on the second-lowest level.
There are, as always, exceptions; even according to "c", to which common sense says that the master craftsman should undoubtedly belong. The exceptions are dealt with in appendices to this guideline.

For example, para. 1 of appendix II lists an educator, a medical-technical radiology assistant; for Germany, in each case, first the Länder are listed, and below them, the professions. In other countries there are other professions, sometimes including similar ones.

And then, under 2., below the headline: „Master/Meister/Maitre“ - which means that the term is far from unknown, and is actually used – the list for Germany shows: opticians, dental technicians, bandagers, audiometric technicians, orthopaedic mechanic, orthopaedic shoemaker.

There is a separate category, under "3." for "shipping".

4. then lists the "Technical section"!
  • There are no professions for Germany in this section!
  • Latvia includes, for example, the train driver's assistant in level "c".
  • And the Czech Republic, for instance, lists a "Mechanic for examining the exhaust gases from motor vehicles".
Also, and you have not misheard me, the "Restorer of monuments which represent craft work". So, not the actual builders of these monuments! Also included are the "Disposer of waste materials" and the "Demolition expert". Please don't misunderstand me – I think that this is perfectly correct. But, what about the German master craftsman, most of all the one from Appendix A of the new Craft Regulation Act?

The "Soester Runde" which I mentioned before, and which led to the EACD, has, thanks to the help of people from 16 European nations in 2001, passed a European recommendation calling for increased prestige for a master craftsman in Europe. At the same time, this is intended to be an incentive for young people to become involved professionally, to become ambitious, and to develop.

This new EU guideline, which is waiting to become law, but, I must point out, is not yet in force – and do not believe anybody who says that nothing more can be done – this guideline will result in an opaque system of layers whose negativity might lie in a wicked differentiation.

Valuable skills and knowledge, indispensable to the culture of Europe's nations, are deemed to be below average, excluded from the centre. There is no getting away from the fact that, under certain circumstances, factory managers and the self-employed will find themselves in level "c". That could mean anything, and does not require any professional training. It is precisely for those young people for whom education, self-reference and an identity in a profession would be of such basic importance that there is no longer much point in seeking a meaning to their lives, good opportunities and social acceptance by working hard, in a profession which calls for a great deal of perseverance and tenaciousness.

Nor do those smart alecs help in any way when they claim that in the next revision, the trade of stonemason will be dropped anyway from Appendix A, and soon, instead of a master craftsman there will be a Bachelor degree, or whatever, and so on and so on. The master craftsman must be placed in the middle, on level "c", and for German crafts, not only that of the professions in Appendix A of the Craft Regulation Act.

In this point, the guideline recalls a caste system such as the Pharaohs used. It does not simply contain a classification in terms of layers which, correctly formulated, can be a social portrayal. Put simply, it represents a barrier when it comes to opportunities for certain people. No matter how hard they work and struggle, they can never belong to the middle. This is not what Europe is supposed to be about. In view of the level of prosperity in Europe compared with much of the world, it is ridiculous that a part of the middle class is humiliated, a middle class which played an important part in the prosperity which has been achieved and in the degree of peace in society.

Those people who are controlled by means of regulations should want and be allowed to play a role in respect of the regulations which affect them.

The guideline must be corrected. It is necessary to fight for this, and it is high time that crafts act on an international basis. This is something which, beyond any doubt, is worth attempting, because standing up for what is right is always a worth doing. The Master of Science and the Master of Arts must be joined by a Master of Craft. This is what I am calling for, and I do so deliberately on QUATTRO CORONATI day in Freiburg/Breisgau: if the fight is fought in the right way, then victory is assured.

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