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Document 32014L0060

Returning cultural objects unlawfully taken from another EU country

Returning cultural objects unlawfully taken from another EU country

This European Union (EU) law clarifies and extends existing rules on the return of all cultural objects considered by an EU country as national treasures which have been unlawfully removed from its territory after 1 January 1993.

ACT

Directive 2014/60/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 (Recast)

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?

This European Union (EU) law clarifies and extends existing rules on the return of all cultural objects considered by an EU country as national treasures which have been unlawfully removed from its territory after 1 January 1993.

KEY POINTS

Scope

The law covers objects of historical, paleontological, ethnographic or numismatic interest or scientific value. The objects may or may not form part of public or other collections or be single items. They may originate from regular or illegal excavations but they must be classified or defined as national treasures.

There is no longer a requirement that objects belong to categories or comply with thresholds related to their age and/or financial value in order to qualify for return.

Cooperation between EU countries

National government agencies from EU countries are required to cooperate efficiently with each other and exchange details on unlawfully removed objects by means of the EU’s internal market information system.

Time limits for checks and returns

Once alerted by another EU country of the discovery of an object, a country has 6 months to check whether it is a national treasure.

The country from which the object was unlawfully removed has 3 years to bring return proceedings from the moment when it becomes aware of the location of the object and the identity of its owner/holder.

Return proceedings may not be brought more than 30 years after the unlawful removal of the object from the requesting EU country. This time limit is increased to 75 years in the case of objects that are part of public collections or religious institutions (in countries where they benefit from special protection rules).

Compensation

According to the circumstances of the case, and only where the holder is able to demonstrate that due care and attention were exercised when she or he acquired the object (i.e. that she or he could not have known it was illegally trafficked), the court in the EU country requested to make the return must award fair compensation. This proof is based on documentation of the object’s provenance, any permits for removal required by the law of the requesting country, the price paid and whether the holder consulted any accessible register of stolen cultural objects.

WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

Directive 2014/60/EU repeals the existing law, Directive 93/7/EEC, with effect from 19 December 2015.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2014/60/EU

17.6.2014

18.12.2015

OJ L 159, 28.5.2014, pp. 1-10

Corrigendum

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OJ L 147, 12.6.2015, p. 24

last update 10.09.2015

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