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Taxation and Customs Union

Commission proposes new rules to stop the illegal import of cultural goods

The European Commission has today put forward new rules to clamp down on the illegal import and trafficking of cultural goods from outside the EU, often linked to terrorist financing and other criminal activity.

The new rules foresee a number of actions which should ensure that the importation of illicit cultural goods becomes much more difficult in the future:

  • A new common EU definition for 'cultural goods' at importation which covers a broad range of objects including archaeological finds, ancient scrolls, the remains of historical monuments, artwork, collections and antiques.
  • The introduction of a new import licensing system for the import of cultural goods which are known to be most at risk, such as archaeological objects, parts of monuments and ancient manuscripts and books.
  • For other categories of cultural goods, importers will have to submit a signed statement or affidavit as proof that the goods have been exported legally from the third country.
  • Customs authorities will also have the power to seize and retain goods when it cannot be demonstrated that the cultural goods in question have been legally exported.

Read the full Press Release
Q&A on new proposal to fight illicit trade in cultural goods
European Commission webpage on the Trade in Cultural Goods