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International Relations, PUBLICATIONS, Structural and Cohesion Policies

Regulating imports of cultural goods [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Krisztina Binder (3rd edition, updated on 28.6.2019),

Römische Münzen

© Manuel Gross / Fotolia

Until now, with the exception of two specific measures for Iraq and Syria, there has been no EU legislation covering the import of cultural goods from non-EU countries entering the EU. By ensuring that these imports are subject to uniform controls along all EU external borders, the new regulation aims to prevent the introduction, import and storage in the EU of cultural goods illegally removed from a third country, thereby protecting cultural heritage and combatting illegal trade, in particular where it may serve as an income source for terrorist groups.

Both Parliament and Council agreed positions on the Commission’ proposal in autumn 2018, and reached an agreement in trilogue negotiations in December that year. Adopted by both institutions in spring 2019, the new regulation lays down the conditions for the introduction, as well as the conditions and procedures for the import, of cultural goods from third countries. The regulation does not apply to cultural goods that have been created or discovered in the EU. To focus the measures established by the regulation on the goods considered most at risk of pillage in conflict areas and to avoid a disproportionate burden for licit trade, the new legislative act introduces age and value thresholds for certain goods categories. The regulation will apply at the latest six years after it comes into force, i.e. from June 2025.

Interactive PDF

Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the import of cultural goods
Committees responsible: (jointly under Rule 55) International Trade (INTA)
Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO)
COM(2017) 375 of 13.7.2017

procedure ref.: 2017/0158(COD)

Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)

Rapporteurs: Alessia Maria Mosca (S&D, Italy)
Daniel Dalton (ECR, United Kingdom)
Procedure completed. Regulation (EU) 2019/880
OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, pp. 1-14

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