Public consultation on a possible revision of Directive 93/7/EEC on the return of cultural goods


At EU level, cultural objects are subject to the provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular those concerning the free movement of goods. However, the TFEU states that the free movement of goods could be restricted on grounds, for instance, of the protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value. 

With the establishment in 1993 of the single market comprising an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods is ensured, EU countries retain the right to define their national treasures and to take the necessary measures to protect them.

In this context, Council Directive 93/7/EEC on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State  was adopted to enable EU countries to protect cultural objects. The Directive introduces a system enabling the national authorities to secure the return to their territory of cultural objects qualified as "national treasures" and have been unlawfully removed from their territory and are located in the territory of another EU country.

At international level, the UNESCO Convention (1970) on the measures to be adopted to prohibit and prevent the import, export and transfer of unlawful ownership of cultural goods and the UNIDROIT Convention (1995) on the stolen or illegally exported cultural goods have been ratified by some, but not all, EU countries. 

This consultation aims to receive the feed-back of the public bodies and other interested parties on how to improve the return of unlawfully removed national treasures. Your suggestions may be given before March 5, 2012



This document has been prepared to inform and consult. It has not been adopted or approved by the European Commission and can not be considered representative of the Commission's official position. Its content does not involve the European Commission in liability of any kind.

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