The European Commission is cracking down on terrorists who raise funds by secretly smuggling ancient artifacts into the EU and selling them to unsuspecting citizens.
To tackle the illegal revenue stream of the likes of ISIS and the Taliban, the Commission proposed new customs rules Thursday.
Terrorist groups have pillaged cultural landmarks like the temples in Syria’s Palmyra to raise cash from antiquities enthusiasts in the EU.
“The illegal trafficking of cultural goods is an issue of grave concern,” said Pierre Moscovici, the Commission’s tax and customs czar. “Such activity can wreak serious damage on the cultural heritage of those countries that can least afford to protect their interests.”
“Today’s proposal equips customs authorities with the right tools to ensure the EU market is closed for such goods,” he added.
Currently, the EU lacks a general framework for the import of cultural goods. This allows traffickers to find an EU country with weak customs rules to smuggle artifacts into the bloc undetected.
The draft measures aim to update EU customs rules, which allow officials to seize goods that are more than 250 years old unless the necessary documentation can be provided.
Cultural ministries and customs authorities in the EU will also have to issue licenses to people transporting ancient goods around the bloc.
The new draft rules come one week after G20 leaders met in Hamburg, where they pledged to tackle terrorist financing by boosting global cooperation and exchanging intelligence.
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