Good news from Germany: 'Germany passes cultural protection law that caused art world fury' Europe Online magazine 23rd June 2016.
The German parliament on Thursday passed a cultural protection law that will regulate the sale of German art deemed to be of "national importance" and clamp down on illicit imports of cultural artefacts. The law was approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s coalition government, which holds more than 75 per cent of seats in the Bundestag, while the opposition Greens and far-left Die Linke abstained from the vote.The legislation will allow artworks more that 75 years old and worth more than 300,000 euros to be assessed for national importance before allowing export abroad by five-member panels that will be set up in each of Germany‘s 16 states.
When the initiative was first presented by the Culture Ministry last year, it provoked a furious response from German art dealers, who said it amounted to excessive regulation by the government.In fact there was a petition organized by Ursula Kampmann, which ultimately amassed some 46,000 signatures (which gives some sort of idea of the size of the market for the antiquities handled by German dealers). The petition and objections of the German collecting community and trade were ignored by the German government and the Bundestag. The legislation was not even discussed in the Bundestag, but was adopted without opposition. Antiquity dealers and collectors are a minority 'special interest' group which are rapidly becoming voices increasingly alienated from matters of public interest and in some democracies they carry little weight in policy making nowadays.