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The original proposal plus others from the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, will be discussed in the hope of forming a common position for the next stage in the legislative process.

The import of cultural goods legislation, proposed in July 2017 by the European Commission (EC), was designed to stop imports of works of art looted from warzones.

Art, antiques and antiquarian book trade associations, led by CINOA and the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA), spent the past year lobbying MEPs to amend proposals they deemed both ‘unworkable and disproportionate’.

British MEP Daniel Dalton, who has been listening to the fears of the trade as one of the co-rapporteurs of the process, told ATG: “My concern is that the proposals go too far. My hope is we can tailor this law so there are different regimes depending on the goods in question so that a 50-year-old letter, pen or book is treated differently to a Syrian antiquity.

“However there are different views in parliament to mine. There are causes for concern for the trade but we are a long way from the final law.”

Vincent Geerling, chairman of the IADAA, said: “The EC acknowledges that more analysis is needed on the size of illicit trade and commissioned a study in 2017, with results expected in 2019. We believe that any legislation should be put on hold pending the results of this important study.”

Ivan Macquisten, an adviser to both CINOA and IADAA, said: “Concerns focus chiefly on the European Parliament proposals’ impossible demands for provenance paperwork, unrealistic timescales relating to a number of issues and the lack of clarity over some definitions.

In the end, whether or not you believe the EU should legislate – and the evidence to justify new legislation is not there, as the Commission’s demand for a new study demonstrates – measures have to be proportionate and workable. Customs will face serious problems if a realistic solution is not found, and the EU art market, in particular, as well as private collectors, will suffer.”