Tuesday 13 December 2011

Public Consultation on a Possible Revision of Directive 93/7/EEC on the Return of Cultural Goods

December 8, 2011: Readers might be interested to know that the European Commission has launched a public consultation on a possible revision of Directive 93/7/EEC on the return of cultural goods. Please participate - the consultation period ends on 05/03/2012.

Europe's cultural heritage is protected by national law in EU countries. At EU level, cultural objects are subject to the provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular those concerning the free movement of goods. However, the TFEU states that the free movement of goods could be restricted on grounds, for instance, of the protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value.

With the establishment in 1993 of the single market comprising an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods is ensured, EU countries retain the right to define their national treasures and to take the necessary measures to protect them.

In this context, Council Directive 93/7/EEC on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State was adopted to enable EU countries to protect cultural objects. The Directive introduces a system enabling the national authorities to secure the return to their territory of cultural objects qualified as “national treasures” and have been unlawfully removed from their territory and are located in the territory of another EU country.

At international level, the UNESCO Convention (1970) on the measures to be adopted to prohibit and prevent the import, export and transfer of unlawful ownership of cultural goods and the UNIDROIT Convention (1995) on the stolen or illegally exported cultural goods have been ratified by some, but not all, EU countries.

The aim of Council Directive 93/7/EEC was to enable EU member countries to reclaim cultural goods classed as "national treasures" that had been unlawfully removed from their territory and are located in another EU country. A special mechanism was created for this.

Reports evaluating the effectiveness of Directive 93/7/EEC have demonstrated that the system does not work as well as it should.

This consultation is the next stage in the process of evaluating Directive 93/7/EEC. It will enable the national authorities responsible for protecting cultural goods and other interested parties to give their opinion about the most effective way of ensuring the return of national treasures unlawfully removed. In the light of this consultation and the evaluation of the Directive in general, the Commission will, if appropriate, put forward a proposal to revise the Directive.

This consultation aims to receive the feed-back of the public bodies and other interested parties on how to improve the return of unlawfully removed national treasures. The questionnaire can be answered by any EU citizen and does not take more than a few minutes. To visit the questionnaire, please click on the link below. All interested parties are warmly encouraged to make their voice heard by 5 March 2012.

Go to the Consultation.

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