Parliamentary Question: Illicit trade in cultural goods and heritage

Parliamentary questions

31 October 2011 E-009825/2011 Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117 Marietje Schaake (ALDE) and Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE) Subject: Illicit trade in cultural goods and heritage

Illicit traffic in cultural goods is said to be the world’s third largest and most profitable illicit trade after weapons and drugs. It has increased in recent years. It has reportedly been facilitated in 2011 due to the instability caused by the Arab Spring.(1)

1. Does the Commission have insight into the loss of cultural heritage in North Africa and the Middle East caused by illicit trade and import to the EU in 2011? 2. According to the answer to Written Question E‑002829/2010(2), the Commission is conducting an evaluation study to reinforce the prevention of and the fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods. The study was to be finalised in 2010. When will the Commission publish the results of this study plus recommendations? What are the main conclusions of this study? 3. On 14 May 2010, the ‘Prevention of Theft and Illicit Traffic’ subgroup (of the European Commission’s expert group on ‘Mobility of Museum Collections’) recommended that it would be appropriate if the European Commission would ‘set up a European observatory or European committee for the fight against trafficking of cultural goods and prevention of theft’. The subgroup furthermore recommended carrying out a study into ‘the feasibility of a certificate or Community circulation document for import and export, enabling the traceability of cultural goods to be improved within and beyond the Community customs area’ and to ‘create technical and financial premises for the establishment of a European Database/platform focused on the circulation of cultural goods’(3). When will the Commission act upon these recommendations? 4. Has the Commission considered proposing a Regulation establishing uniform import control for specific categories of cultural goods, setting standards for control and in this way hampering the illegal import of artefacts to the EU? If not, why not? (1)