POLICY BRIEF: Think Tank Recommends British Government Close a Gateway for Illicit Cultural Property

Chair of UK Blue Shield, Fionnuala Rogers, has worked with the major NGO Think Tank, The Antiquities Coalition, to release of a Policy Brief that analyses the UK’s decision to Repeal the EU Import Regulation in Great Britain and prevent the resulting risk of Northern Ireland becoming a gateway to Europe for illicit cultural property. Rogers argues that the repeal creates a gateway to Europe for illicit cultural property through Northern Ireland, where the regulation still applies, and that the UK must take immediate steps to mitigate that risk.

This paper makes a series of recommendations to encourage the UK to rationalize its regulatory approach, meet its international commitments, and to set a leading example for other art market countries in cultural heritage protection.

“The objectives of the Regulation are both urgent and necessary, namely to safeguard humanity’s cultural heritage and prevent the illicit trade in cultural goods, particularly where such illicit trade could contribute to terrorist financing. The objective of the UK should be to strike a balance between prevention of illicit trafficking and maintaining a legitimate art market, while trying to streamline requirements, procedures and practices across the UK as much as possible when it comes to import.

Fionnuala Rogers

For a summary and link to the policy brief, visit: https://thinktank.theantiquitiescoalition.org/following-the-uks-repeal-of-the-eu-import-regulation-in-great-britain-will-northern-ireland-become-a-gateway-to-europe-for-illicit-cultural-property-recommendations-for-the-uk-to-mitigate/

The paper follows extensive lobbying by the UK Committee of the Blue Shield, including an earlier Press Release highlighting the issue and a Memorandum circulated to UK Government. The House of Lords cited UK Blue Shield and our Memorandum, and called the Government paper “misleading” when we challenged the Government’s approach to N. Ireland in its repeal of EU Reg 2019/880 on the Introduction and Import of Cultural Goods (Hansard Debate).


The Antiquities Coalition is leading the international campaign against cultural racketeering, the illicit trade in ancient art and artifacts. We champion better law and policy, foster diplomatic cooperation, and advance proven solutions with public and private partners worldwide. We are working towards a future when the past is preserved for the next generation, not looted, smuggled, and sold to finance crime, conflict, and terror.

Fionnuala Rogers is a leader in the field of cultural property. Rogers is an art and cultural property lawyer, and founder and director of the specialist art and heritage law firm, Canvas Art Law Ltd. She is Chair of the United Kingdom Committee of the Blue Shield and member of the Blue Shield International Illicit Trafficking working group. 


Read More about the Policy Paper in The Art Newspaper

And in The Telegraph