The European Council’s 1993 Directive on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State (93/7/EEC) will soon be recast. The proposed updated Directive was approved by the European Parliament and Council on 15 May 2014.
- Extending the scope of cultural objects covered to include all nationally designated cultural objects (not just those listed in the annex to the 1993 Directive with their age and financial thresholds, or objects forming an integral part of public collections);
- Lengthening the deadline for return proceedings;
- Making use of the internal market information system; and
- In cases where return is ordered, placing the burden on the possessor for the purpose of compensation.
It has been noted by the DCMS in the UK that the changes (most notably (1) above) will likely result in a greater number of claims for return being made across Europe.
The new Directive will enter into force twenty days following publication in the EU Official Journal. Member States will then have eighteen months to incorporate the new provisions into their domestic laws. The changes will thus apply from 19 December 2015.
For an update on the situation, see here.