Summary & Update on EU proposal on imports of cultural goods
(EU Import licenses & statements requirements for non-European Cultural goods)
 
5 October 2018
 
European Union institutions are currently discussing legal measures which, if passed un-amended, could cause considerable problems for many dealers and auction houses which sell fine art, antiques or antiquities:

Why does CINOA oppose these proposals?
CINOA believes that the proposals are totally misguided and has written numerous position papers and discussed with EU officials the practicalities of what they are proposing. In a nutshell, the registration measures would add costs and paperwork to the operation as well as delays in transportation of art and antiques businesses throughout Europe, particularly dealers participating at art fairs abroad. (Scroll to the end of the document for bullet points on Issues)

Update - (report by IADAA with editing)
CINOA, IADAA, the ADA and BADA has been working closely over the past month as fresh details emerged on the negotiating positions of the European Commission’s import licensing proposals. Three proposals will now be debated in the next few months. The original proposal from the European Commission, Compromise Amendments to this proposal from the European Parliament and the “Revised Presidency Compromise Text” from the Council of the European Union – and all three are very different. While neither address all of the trade’s concerns, the current draft of the “Revised Presidency Compromise Text” comes much closer to a realistic and workable policy than the European Parliament proposal, which, if anything, has regressed significantly to an impossible position that massively widens the scope of the proposals for the wider art and antiques market.

The reports form part of the usual process of legislative scrutiny, with all sides coming together for trilogue talks later in the year as they debate the merits or otherwise of each option, with a view to drawing up a final set of agreed amendments.

The trade associations’ chief concerns are focused on the impossible demands for provenance paperwork, unrealistic timescales relating to a number of issues and the lack of clarity over some definitions.

The chasm between the proposals may prove too wide to breach in the short term. If so, it is unlikely that any measures will be passed in time for the deadline of next year’s European Parliamentary elections. However, the pressure to achieve a settlement is great because those involved want to be able to promote their success prior to the elections. The Commission acknowledges lack of information and that more analysis is needed on the size of the illicit trade, which is why it commissioned a “Study on improving knowledge about illicit trade in cultural goods in the EU, and the new technologies available to combat it” in 2017, with results expected in June 2019 (executed by Ecorys).

We believe that any proposed legislation should be put on hold pending the results of this important study. The associations are continuing to lobby on this issue and we will report back at the appropriate time.

National associations should contact their MEPs and European Council members to voice their concerns. (We would be happy to provide you more details, comments and documents).


See short report below on the IMCO-INTA Committee vote on 27 September 2018:
The Joint IMCO-INTA Committee of the European Parliament adopted
<http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20180924IPR14202/stricter-rules-to-halt-the-illegal-imports-of-artefacts-into-the-eu> its Joint Report on the Import of cultural goods on September 27th.

The amendments to the European Commission’s proposal were approved with 56 votes in favour, four against and three abstentions. The Joint Report will be published in the coming days.
  •  The 250-years minimum age limit set in the Commission’s proposal is replaced by *minimum financial values*.
  •  Application for and registration of licences and importer statements *will* *be done electronically* to facilitate the procedure and for reasons of legal certainty.
  •  Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises shall be provided with *adequate technical and financial assistance*, including a dedicated website with all relevant information for SMEs.
  • Custom authorities are granted the power to* seize and temporarily retain cultural goods* if the legality of the export cannot be demonstrated.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Rapporteur for the INTA Committee *Alessia Maria Mosca* (S&D, social-democrats, Italy, INTA) stressed that the Joint Committee *"made a step towards the effective protection of cultural heritage, which is endangered by one of the most lucrative and dangerous illegal traffic globally"*.

MEP and Rapporteur for the IMCO Committee *Daniel Dalton* (ECR, eurosceptic, United Kingdom) declared himself *"disappointed with the outcome that got us here"* but will work with the INTA Committee for the adoption of a proposal *"suitable for customs authorities and companies alike"*.

*Next steps:*
  •   The *European Parliament* in plenary session will vote on the Joint IMCO-INTA Report.
  •  Member States still have to agree on a comment position with the *Council of the European Union* ahead of* trilogues*.

Issues:
How would the new regulation affect imports of art, antiques & antiquities?
There have been a number of different versions of the draft regulation, but the current proposals would have the following impact:

·         It would apply to all types of non-European cultural goods (goods that did not originate from EU member states) above an undefined threshold (100 and 250 years are being seriously considered) when imported into EU Member States – it is not restricted to antiquities.

·         Currently the regulations would apply irrespective of value although a value threshold is being considered. Without such a threshold, a damaged 18th-century topographical engraving worth €75 would be treated in the same way as a painting valued at €1 million.

·         Descriptions and images of all cultural goods older than the age threshold would need to be entered onto an EU cultural goods register prior to being imported into the EU. This includes all jewellery, glass, silver, ceramics, paintings, furniture and sculpture.

·         Additionally for rare manuscripts, archaeological objects and items removed from historic monuments importers would need to apply for an EU import licence. Evidence would be required that these objects had been legally exported from their country of origin or, the source country still not determined, that they were exported legally. Often this is impossible to prove.

For more information, contact Erika Bochereau at the CINOA secretariat: secretary@cinoa.org