The European Parliament just voted in favour of new legislation that seeks to curb the illegal trade in cultural goods. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) is happy Europe is at the forefront of protecting cultural heritage worldwide, while at the same time countering the financing of terrorism. Schaake negotiated the new rules on behalf of the liberals.
Schaake: "The illegal trade in stolen cultural treasures is worth almost 150 million euros yearly and is an important source of income for terrorist groups. It is essential that we prevent European traders and consumers from indirectly contributing to the destruction of cultural heritage or the financing of murder machines such as ISIS by importing stolen goods from countries such as Libya and Syria."
"At the same time we do not want to overburden European importers with complicated new rules. That is why the European Parliament made sure the new law is based on rules that already exist for the export of cultural goods, that goods can be declared online, that museums and art fairs can continue exchanging art for exhibitions and that we distinguish between goods which are most at risk and those that are less so."
The International Criminal Court recently ruled that the destruction of cultural heritage may in certain circumstances constitute genocide. All the more reason to act according to Schaake.
"This new regulation illustrates that Europe's trade policy is about much more than opening new markets. By actually limiting trade we protect human rights globally. Such measures were already take to ban the trade in torture goods and to make the trade in minerals conflict free. The rules we adopted today are another good example of Europe's values-based trade agenda. In addition, we send a clear signal that culture is also a human right which Europe will keep defending."
The new legislation on the import of cultural goods will now have to be negotiated between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council.