Wednesday, 12 July 2017

EU Plans Tough Checks on 'One of the Most Persistent Illegal Trades in the World'

'The black market of antiquities and culture
constitutes one of the most persistent illegal trades in the world'

In the EU there is increased concern about stopping militants and jihadis financing terror through trade in stolen art, there will be tighter checks on imports of ancient artefacts (Jim Brunsden, EU plans tough checks on imports of ancient artefacts', Financial Times 12 July 2017).
The European Commission will set out plans on Thursday to fix a patchwork of national procedures that it says makes it too easy to ship objects looted from Syria and other war zones into the EU. [...] Pierre Moscovici, the EU’s economy commissioner, told the Financial Times that his plans would “complete our arsenal as we tackle the trafficking of works of art”. “Money is a weapon of war for those terrorists who target our continent or who are engaged in fighting in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “For our security, we must at all costs diminish their sources of financing, starting with the trafficking of stolen art in third countries.” 
A number of seizures of artefacts (not all of which are reported in the news) and evidence of systematic looting  'on an industrial level' in areas under militant control is the reason for this concern.  It is clear that such business constitutes a direct threat to Europe, the money raised not only goes directly to the financing of militant groups in the MENA area but also could be used to finance attacks on European soil.
Brussels will propose common rules on the details that importers must give customs officials and national culture ministries, with the toughest rules for archaeological objects such as sculptures and monuments as well as for old books and manuscripts. Such goods would only be allowed into the EU after an importer proved they had been exported legally. Customs agents and other national authorities would have 90 days to examine the claims and decide whether to grant an import licence. Officials say national standards vary widely. While some countries, such as Germany and France, demand that goods are accompanied by an export certificate from the source country, procedures in other EU nations are much less thorough, leading to problems of so-called port-shopping.  The planned EU rules would apply to goods that are at least 250 years old, and national governments would have to put in place effective and dissuasive sanctions to punish rule-breakers. 
A Brexited Britain will have to put its own measures into place to police its extensive portable antiquities market, otherwise face accusations that it is fqacilitating terrorist activity and endangering the rest of us.

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