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Published:  13 Dec 2022

The European Union steps up fight against trafficking in cultural goods

The European Commission has adopted an action plan to combat trafficking in cultural goods. Protection of cultural heritage exposed to risk of theft, looting and trafficking is one of its major objectives.

Cultural objects are of major cultural, artistic, historical and scientific importance. Yet, they are often subject to crime, including looting, theft and trafficking. This has a devastating impact on cultural heritage inside and outside the EU, in particular in crisis and conflict areas.

For this reason and in line with recommendations for stepping-up global action against cultural goods trafficking in various areas, the European Commission has adopted today the EU Action Plan against trafficking in cultural goods.

In this context, the action plan provides a clear, comprehensive and effective framework to the EU’s contribution to the fight against trafficking of cultural goods between 2022 and 2025.

The action plan has two main objectives:

  1. to disrupt criminal activities
  2. promote and safeguard cultural heritage

It brings together the relevant policy initiatives into one framework and aims to generate synergies amongst the existing actions. It also outlines new measures required to respond to the evolving threat.

4 strategic objectives to fight illicit trafficking

The action plan focuses on four strategic objectives:

Firstly, it proposes how to improve prevention and detection of crimes by market participants and cultural heritage institutions.

Secondly, it lists actions aiming to strengthening law enforcement and judicial capabilities.

Thirdly, it proposes how to boost international cooperation on combatting illicit trade.

And finally, it announces measures to raise awareness amongst other key stakeholders to protect cultural goods from crime.

The document does not only outline the actions to be implemented by the EU but it also encourages the Member States to put in place solutions to curb trafficking in cultural goods.

Published:  13 Dec 2022