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Mayor, Representatives of the association,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

and our own dear EACD colleagues,

Yesterday, during our General Assembly, you elected me to the Presidency of the European Association of Building Crafts and Design for a term of 2 years, and I would like to thank you officially for your confidence in me.

I would like to take this opportunity to salute my two predecessors, Franz Bamberger from Austria, and Jürgen Prigl from Germany, for the work that they have accomplished since EACD was first established.

If I had to make a report, I would say that they have opened our doors to 15 European countries as members, and have offered 18 hopeful candidates from 12 different nation states top quality training, and have established lasting contacts between institutions and government bodies.

The most difficult part of any European project, as is amply demonstrated by the politicians, is that of bringing people together and establishing shared ideals about training and self-realization, and, together with our EACD association, to encourage craft workers by setting up exchange schemes, and by promoting mobility on the technological, human and cultural levels.

France is one of the countries which laid the foundations for the EACD with the Compagnons du Devoir. The Institut Supérieur de Recherche et de Formation aux Métiers de la Pierre in Rodez represents the Compagnons du Devoir in the EACD and this institute is, furthermore, recognised as a hub of innovation by the [French] Ministry of Economy and Finance. The Compagnons du Devoir are well known here, in Troyes, since many Compagnons are in charge of businesses that contribute to the city’s economic development, notably the SNBR company under the leadership of Philippe Baubrit and, equally, the Chatignoux company.

The reason why we were so keen to hold our General Assembly here in France, in Troyes, was not simply on account of our champagne; it was because we wanted you to discover one of the jewels of our lovely city – La Maison de l’Outil et de la Pensée Ouvrière, which we are so proud of. A collection that comprises 10,000 tools and 25,000 craft items which is quite simply unique in Europe. Compagnon Patient greeted us here last night, along with Mr Ewan Thill and Madame Maud Lorin from the Chassenay d’Arce Society, and we enjoyed this opportunity to sample the winemaker’s craft.

The region and city of Troyes are blessed with an exemplary and extraordinary built heritage, as we were able to see for ourselves this morning, when Jean Louis Valentin, Compagnon carpenter and architect, took us on a tour. Many thanks to all these people for giving us their time.

I would like to point out that Troyes also has a hub of innovation, in the Institut Universitaire des Métiers du Patrimoine, which goes to show how deeply this region is imbued with culture.

This is precisely what EACD is about. Our constitution states that the aim of the association is:

To represent, uphold and promote the interests of the arts and crafts, and those engaged in the design, construction and preservation of our heritage with regard to the appropriate European administrative and policy-making institutions.

An initiative at European level must take culture into account.

Our architectural heritage constitutes a culture that is open to the crafts, and ideas about crafts.

The EACD is also committed to publishing a book for each tour, the first volume of which we are delighted to present to you. The second volume is currently being written.

Our member countries currently number 15 ; Hungary, Latvia, UK, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, The Netherlands, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Luxembourg and France. We are keen to widen this circle and propose the inclusion of Spain, Portugal and Belgium, three countries which produce stone and hold their own in the history of construction.

Future projects will also include securing official EU recognition for our diploma by strengthening our university contacts, and we welcome suggestions relating to this.

We also want to broaden our experience to include more crafts, and we made an approach to the Chamber of Carpenters during our General Assembly in London.

Lastly, and inevitably – I don’t need to remind you that we also need to finance our projects, to improve the status of our candidates, which means that we also need to seek funding opportunities, and here too, we are on the lookout for ideas.

Many thanks to Madame Nicole Machéré; during the [French] National Congress for the Compagnons stonemasons, I suggested holding our EACD General Assembly here, in Troyes. We have succeeded in so doing, and thereby to introduce our guests to our city and the Maison de l’Outilet de la Pensée Ouvrière.

I would like to thank the Mayor, and hope that this visit has made our EACD members keen to return to Troyes, and that your city will be able to welcome a training station based on the Maison de l’Outilet de la Pensée Ouvrière.

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