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Parliamentary questions
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14 September 2020
Answer given by Ms Johansson
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-003599/2020

The Commission deplores any damage to religious and cultural heritage and cooperates with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on raising awareness of the implications of illicit trade in cultural goods.

Trafficking in cultural goods is addressed in the framework of the EU policy cycle on organised and serious international crime — the EU’s framework to tackle the most important criminal threats in a coherent and methodical manner — where it is part of the priority ‘organised property crime’.

Subsequent cross-border and multi-disciplinary actions against criminal groups active in the trafficking of cultural goods, which were conducted with the support of Europol(1), have shown promising results. In its recently adopted Security Union Strategy(2), the Commission committed to explore how to improve the online and offline traceability of cultural goods.

As regards stolen cultural objects currently located within the European Union, European Parliament and Council Directive (EU) No 2014/60/EU(3) provides for mechanisms for the return of national treasures unlawfully removed from the territory of one EU Member State to another Member State after 1 January 1993.

It is also open to Member States to return cultural objects unlawfully removed before this date. Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009(4) regulates the export of cultural goods located within the customs territory of the Union, by subjecting them to a system of export licences.

European Parliament and Council Regulation 2019/880(5) regulates the import into the Union of cultural goods created or discovered in third countries and prohibits the introduction by any means into the Union of cultural goods unlawfully exported from third countries.

(1)The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, Regulation 2016/794/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement. Cooperation (Europol) and replacing and repealing Council Decisions 2009/371/JHA, 2009/934/JHA, 2009/935/JHA, 2009/936/JHA and 2009/968/JHA, OJ L 135, 24.5.2016, p. 53‐114.
(2)Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the EU Security Union Strategy, COM(2020) 605 final, 24.7.2020.
(3)Directive 2014/60/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 (Recast), OJ L 159, 28.5.2014, p. 1‐10.
(4)Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 of 18 December 2008 on the export of cultural goods (Codified version), OJ L 39, 10.2.2009, p. 1‐7.
(5)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, OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, p. 1‐14.
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