Answer to Written Question: Illegal trafficking and sale of cultural goods

(Source: European Parliament)



Answer given by Ms Ferreira

on behalf of the European Commission


The Commission is firmly committed to fostering efforts by both Cypriot communities to protect religious and cultural heritage and to promote trust and reconciliation.

The Commission shares the Honourable Member’s concerns about the international network in illegal trafficking of cultural heritage, terrorist financing and money laundering. To fight against this phenomenon the Commission, in co-operation with Europol, fosters co-ordination between law enforcement authorities. The EU Strategy to tackle organised crime, adopted on 14 April 2021[1] sets out that the Commission will continue to support capacity building amongst cultural heritage experts and support their structured cooperation with law enforcement. Furthermore, the Commission will examine other necessary actions to address this phenomenon, including through the improvement of the online and offline traceability of cultural goods in the internal market and cooperation with third countries where cultural goods are looted. To this end, the Commission will propose an Action Plan on tackling the illicit trade in cultural goods in 2022.

The European Union has also developed a comprehensive legislative framework to protect European cultural treasures from illegal export[2], to ensure the return of cultural goods illegally removed from its territory[3] and to prohibit introduction and import into the Union of cultural goods illegally exported from all third countries[4]. Trade of arts and cultural goods was also identified as one of the key areas for action in the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive[5].

[1] COM(2021) 170 final

[2] Regulation (EC) 116/2009 of 18 December 2008 on the export of cultural goods

[3] Directive (EU) 2014/60 of 15 May 2014 on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State and amending Regulation (EU) 1024/2012

[4] Regulation (EU) 2019/880 of 17 April 2019 on the introduction and the import of cultural goods

[5] Directive (EU) 2018/843 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, and amending Directives (EC) 2009/138 and (EU) 2013/36

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