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Following Brexit, will the UK Become a Center of Cultural Racketeering?

March 2, 2022

Experts Dissect and Discuss Recommendations and Next Steps During Live Panel

Cultural racketeering remains a global issue, despite international attention and efforts to combat this illicit trade which is financing crime, conflict, and terrorism. In Europe, while the EU has sought to address the problem by streamlining import rules and preventing import without proof of legal export from the country of origin, the UK has taken a seemingly opposite approach, quietly revoking the EU Regulation on the Introduction and the Import of Cultural Goods (EU 2019/880) in Great Britain, while adopting it in Northern Ireland. This decision left the UK at risk of becoming a target destination for illicit cultural goods that cannot enter Europe.

On March 1, experts on the art market, law enforcement, and art law joined Think Tank Author Fionnuala Rogers for a lively discussion on her recent Policy Brief which provided recommendations to encourage the UK to balance competing interests, meet its international commitments, and take the role as a leading example for other art market countries in cultural heritage protection.

Key Takeaways included: 

  • Paper Trails Are Worth It: Without overburdening dealers, just a few more questions can make an impact. Requiring more information on import (but less than required by the EU Regulation) such as believed origin, declaration, and provenance, can help law enforcement protect the art market. 
  • The UK has a Unique Opportunity: The UK has a unique opportunity to adopt bespoke practices, which are more targeted and workable than those required by the EU Regulation, under its existing legislation while still meeting the objective.
  • Consultation with Experts is Needed: Moving forward, the UK government should consult with experts from all fields to ensure they create a policy that is practical, effective, and useful to all stakeholders. 

Read the Policy Paper Here

Watch the Recording Here.