On 30 January 2024, the European Commission organised a high-level event on the “Dialogue with the Art Market”. The discussions focused on strengthening the collaboration between the European Commission, the art market, and international organisations such as UNESCO, to protect cultural heritage and combatting trafficking of cultural goods. This initiative marks the beginning of a new phase of an ongoing dialogue.
Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, opened the Dialogue, stressing the importance of the art market in the common approach to fight illicit trafficking and trade of cultural goods, speaking of the “Team Culture United”, which brings all stakeholders together. As he said,
Europe is leading. We must safeguard and elevate cultural heritage - to ensure it remains a force that unites us. We are all part of the solution and allies in this fight.
Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture also emphasized how institutions and the art trade share the same passion and determination to protect heritage. He highlighted the global dimension of the issue, and the challenges that new technologies pose.
Dr Donna Yates, from Maastricht University, emphasised in her keynote speech the potential and the need of harnessing the knowledge and experience of the art market stakeholders to address these challenges.
Towards a thriving and reputable art market that protects heritage
A fruitful panel discussion followed, focused on concrete ways for the different actors to better cooperate towards a thriving and reputable art market while protecting heritage.
Panel members as well as members of the audience, shared key ideas such as:
- the importance of accurate, reliable data and transparency to improve evidence-based policy making and protect the traders’ reputation
- recognition of the importance of consultation and its relation with ongoing dialogue for meaningful collaboration
- code of ethics and adherence to the art traders' own ethical codes
- acknowledgment of the art market's role in sharing data, emphasising proactive measures
The dialogue will continue at the working group with the art market - Sub-group to the Commission expert group on cultural heritage, which already met in December 2023, and will be meeting for the second time before summer.
The dialogue with the art market is foreseen in the EU Action Plan against trafficking in cultural goods 2023-2025.