Monday 28 December 2020

EU Regulation 2019/880 of 17 April 2019 on the Introduction and the Import of Cultural Goods

                           dirty hands                       
On 28th December, 2020, Article 3(i) of Regulation (EU) 2019/880 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the introduction and the import of cultural goods comes into force. This legislation is based on the premise that there is an urgent need to curb the trade in illegal items when the “pillaging of archaeological sites [...] has now reached an industrial scale.” “Together with trade in illegally excavated cultural goods, [it] is a serious crime that causes significant suffering to those directly or indirectly affected,” the text continues. “The illicit trade in cultural goods in many cases contributes to forceful cultural homogenisation or forceful loss of cultural identity, while the pillage of cultural goods leads, inter alia, to the disintegration of cultures.” This law has not been met with widespread enthusiasm among commercial art dealers, some of whom feared that tightened trade regulations would negatively impact the industry.
Vincent Geerling, chairman of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art, told the Art Newspaper last year that “[the] proposal is based on inaccurate information… members of the European Parliament have shown a distinct lack of understanding of, and curiosity about, the issues at hand as they press ahead with measures that would greatly damage the international art market.”

I think Mr Geerling is being disingenuous, the  EP understands very well how the market operates in its current form and how it needs to change to prevent looting and smuggling. Mr Geerling of course knows that too. The question is, how long will we create laws to serve the needs of this type of trade, and how long will the trade fail to conform with the sort of laws that are needed to clean it up? 

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