The European Parliament, with support of the S&D Group, took an important decision today on the import of cultural goods into Europe, a market that counts for about 19 billion euros. A new stable legal framework will ensure coherence with European values in the field of archaeology, prehistory, literature, art or science. The regulation will provide a strong answer to the illicit trafficking of cultural goods, which is second only to those in weapons and drugs. The illegal looting of cultural heritage not only deprives humanity of its history and culture but it also contributes to tax evasion, money laundering and the financing of terrorist attacks on European soil.
Alessia Mosca, S&D negotiator for the European Parliament on international trade, said:
“The approval of the regulation today represents another milestone for the European common trade policy. With our vote, we reiterated our value-based approach to globalisation. Trade does not come at all costs. The new system, by enhancing customs controls and due diligence requirements, will promote conscious choices among European buyers and collectors. In the wake of the attack of the archaeological site of Palmyra, media improperly reported the destruction of the UNESCO world heritage site. In fact, ISIS dismantled the ancient city. The most precious items were then looted and sold on the European market. By acquiring those cultural goods, European citizens contributed to the financing of the terrorist organisation. With the rules we approved today, this will not happen again.”
Arndt Kohn, S&D negotiator on internal market and consumer protection, added:
“The regulation gives customs authorities a clear and coherent set of rules to control imports of cultural goods. Thanks to this European common framework and a common European electronic system, we can prevent loopholes and potential port-shopping by criminals trying to import illicit cultural goods onto our market. The regulation is thus an important achievement for the protection of cultural heritage worldwide.”