Today, the Commission is presenting the EU action plan against trafficking in cultural goods. The Action Plan provides a comprehensive framework for the EU and the Member States to strengthen the prevention, detection, criminal justice response and international cooperation on fight against illicit trafficking of cultural goods. The Action Plan also addresses the vulnerability of cultural goods to criminal harm in conflict and crisis regions, recently illustrated by the looting of Ukrainian museums in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
Trafficking in cultural goods is a lucrative business for organised crime, and in some cases for conflict parties and terrorists. Between 2017 and 2021, law enforcement operations supported by Europol resulted in the recovery of over 200,000 cultural objects and led to 418 arrests. Tackling this complex and highly transnational criminal activity requires a tailor-made response at EU level, as laid down in the EU Security Union Strategy and the EU Strategy to Tackle Organised Crime.