CINOA Perspectives
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Perspectives

Key points for EU Cultural Ministries regarding EU art related policy

Subject: Without greater art trade participation in EU actions there is a risk of failing to target the types of cultural property in need of protection and damaging the EU art market sector

March 1, 2022

 

Established in 1935, CINOA is the global leader in representing the international art and antiques trade[1], setting benchmark standards for the industry and promoting a responsible art trade. The professional art and antique dealers’ role in finding, researching, restoring and bringing to light, items that might otherwise remain hidden to scholarship is a major contributor to the conservation of cultural objects and heritage.

 

We are concerned that not enough attention is being given to the role of the art and antique trade sector, including investment in conservation of cultural property that is implicit in the commercial cycle, and we are not currently adequately represented when legislation is being developed with impacts on our sector. There are several EU laws in the pipeline or just being implemented, all of which are being led by other Directorates-General (DGs), while the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) is not visibly involved:

  • Regulation (EU) 2019/880 on the Import of Cultural Goods 2019 (DG TAXUD)
  • EU Anti Money Laundering legislation - specifically targeting galleries (DG FIN)
  • Future proposal for further restriction on bio-diversity - impacting antiques (DG ENV)
  • Action Plan to fight the illicit trade of cultural goods (DGs EAC, TAXUD, HOME, JUST)
  • EC tender for research on the fight against trafficking of cultural goods (HORIZON)

 

Many of these new regulations are trying to tackle exaggerated claims and are based on false assumptions. They will add to the administrative tasks and expense of these small businesses. As study after study fails to find any noteworthy evidence linking the art market to trafficking, terrorism financing or money laundering, action is required to help prevent further damage to legitimate interests.

 

Part of the problem appears to be that the guiding principles of the President of the European Commission, which demand that policy should be proportionate, evidence based and not unduly damaging to legitimate business, often come into direct conflict with the EU’s precautionary principle approach to legislation, which seeks to remove risk even before any evidence of there being a problem has been identified.

 

We ask that:

  1. Policy makers, including governments, should ensure that at least two representatives from the relevant sector of the art market are co-opted on to any panel or consulting body advising them.
  2. There is a designated contact person in the EU cabinet of DG EAC that follows the on-going regulations affecting the art and antiques market, who would act as a sector contact, with whom we can open a dialogue to ensure that the conservation of art or cultural heritage objects is not being unintentionally demoted.
  3. All active and pending legislation should be reviewed in light of the facts and data now available which disproves the basis on which they were founded.

 

[1] Most businesses in the sector are SMEs - galleries have an average of 4 employees and the connected professionals, acting as intermediaries or service providers, are equally often SMEs. Related small firms who are highly specialized, such as booth designers, agents, restorers, photographers, shippers and insurers will all be severely impacted by the loss of the ability to trade. Many of these businesses are already seriously evaluating their longevity.


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