Taxation and customs union

Cultural Goods

With the creation of the internal market on 1 January 1993, European Union Member States were unable to prevent their national treasures leaving the EU via another Member State. To prevent an illegal outflow of cultural goods from one Member State to another or from the Union altogether, two pieces of legislation have since been developed covering

  • the export of cultural goods, and
  • the return of cultural objects.

EU legislation on the export of cultural goods:

==> Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 (Codified version) lays down provisions on the export of cultural goods, ensuring uniform controls at the EU's external borders. It specifies namely the following:

  • The export is subject to the presentation of an export licence that is valid throughout the EU;
  • The export licence may be refused under certain circumstances;
  • The Commission is assisted by an advisory Committee.

This Regulation repealed Regulation (EEC) No 3911/92. Any reference to the repealed Regulation should be understood as a reference to Regulation (EC) No 116/2009.

==> Commission Regulation (EC) No 1081/2012 lays down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation No. 116/2009 on the export of cultural goods, namely as regards the following aspects:

  • The types of licence to be issued, their use and period of validity,
  • The export licence forms to be provided for the purpose, including models for such forms.

Export licence form, competent authorities and customs offices

An export licence can be obtained on application to the competent authorities in the Member States, as listed below. The application form is provided by these authorities. The submission of an electronic application for an export licence is subject to acceptance of such procedure in the individual Member States.

In April 2015  the Commission adopted a report on the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009, covering the period from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2013 COM(2015) 144 final of 01.04.2015 - both documents (see also the previous report COM(2011) 382 of 27.6.2011.

EU legislation on the return of cultural objects

The return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State is governed by Council Directive No 93/7/EEC.

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