European Commission
The European Commission in Brussels. Image credit: Jai79 via Pixabay.

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The measures, first proposed in July 2017 by the European Commission, are designed to stop the movement within the EU of cultural goods illicitly exported from their country of origin.

The regulation was drawn up in an attempt to stop trafficking of looted antiquities – a perceived source of income for terrorists and organised crime groups.

However, specialists in the art and antiques sector believe the proposals increase the administrative burden on the art and antiquities trade and will lead to confusion for border force as the wording of the rules is not clear.

Many specialists are arguing for clarifications to improve the rules, and trade associations including The International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA), the British Art Market Federation (BAMF) and The Antiquities Dealers’ Association (ADA) will be submitting feedback.

Ivan Macquisten, international art market analyst and who has worked with IADAA, has already submitted feedback. He said: “The terms of the regulations are still too loose, which could allow for systems abuse and delay while seeing EU customs overwhelmed. For any law to be effective, and to avoid unintended consequences, its terms and conditions need to be clearly defined.

“Certain essential terms under the proposals are not defined clearly enough. This could create serious difficulties for customs enforcement in the execution of their duty, while also inadvertently bringing huge volumes of inappropriate material within the scope of the law.”

European Commission

The cultural goods import rules were first proposed in July 2017 by the European Commission. Image: European Commission inauguration. Image credit: © European Union European Parliament 2019.

The feedback period is open until April 21 for the new rules on ‘Imports of cultural goods into the EU’ and the form can be found online at: http://atg.news/EUculturalgoods

Following Brexit the UK will not adhere to the new regulations on this matter. But all EU nations will follow the new law when it comes into force, expected to be by 2025.

A summary of the new regulation governing the import of cultural goods into the EU:

■ Cultural items such as antiques and books more than 200 years old and valued above €18,000 each that originated from outside the EU will require the owner to produce an importer statement, backed by detailed identifying documents, warranting that the items have been legally exported.

■ Cultural items such as archaeological works more than 250 years old originating from outside the EU will require lawful import licences from the country of origin, regardless of value. Exemptions may apply if the country in which the item was created or discovered cannot be reliably determined or it was prior to April 24, 1972, and only if the item has been legally exported from the last country that it was in for five years or more.