After several written requests the European Commission finally took position on the return of the Parthenon Marbles in the context of Brexit. In a notion to SYRIZA MEP Stelios Kouloglou, the Commission said there is nothing it can do arguing the Marbles are old.
MEP Kouloglou had already written twice to the European Commission asking to include the return of the stolen Marbles in the Brexit negotiations.
Kouloglou had underlined that the Parthenon sculptures are considered to be the most important symbols of the European culture. “Consequently, the reunification of the Marbles, apart from being a sign of respect and of a civilized relationship by a member leaving the EU, is also a legal requirement.”
However, the Commission responded said that although it “attaches great importance to the protection of the sites of cultural heritage”, it is not in position to do anything on the issue.
Citing Directives and paragraphs, the Commission claimed that the issue is older than the Commission rules Directive 2014/60, 93/7 and 116/2009.
To make the long bureaucratic response short here is so much:
The Directives protect the cultural heritages and provide cooperation mechanisms and judicial procedures to ensure the return of cultural goods, however, all these protection mechanism are effective when the cultural goods have been “removed from the territory of an EU member state and transferred to the territory of another member state after 1. January 1993.”
The Parthenon Marbles were stolen by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and were trasnferred to England between 1801 and 1812.
In its response to MEP Kouloglou, the Commission said that the Directives protecting the cultural heritage “cannot be applied to the Parthenon Marbles as they were “removed during the first half of the 19th century.”
The European Commission response was issued on 9. October, that is a couple of months later than the MEP’s written request.
I assume the Commission can also do nothing for the return of cultural goods stolen by the Nazis during the World War II.
PS I suppose, EU bureau- and technocrats were lost in … directives, paragraphs and sub-paragraphs,