Row over ‘unlawfully removed cultural objects’ could feature in Brexit talks

PUBLISHED: 08:46 19 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:46 19 February 2020

Sections of the Parthenon Marbles in London's British Museum.  Photograph: Matthew Fearn/PA.

Sections of the Parthenon Marbles in London's British Museum. Photograph: Matthew Fearn/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

The EU could demand the return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece as part of upcoming Brexit talks.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only continue to grow with your support.

According to a document shared on social media, the EU's latest negotiating position called for the UK and Brussels to "address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin".

The Guardian reported that the proposition had been argued for by Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Greece, but was about a desire to stop the fraudulent movement of antiquities around Europe rather than a direct reference to the marbles.

The Parthenon marbles, which date back to the fifth century BC, were once in the ancient Greek Parthenon temple and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens but around half were taken to Britain in the early nineteenth century by staff working for the Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce.

The acquisition of the sculptures has been controversial for more than 200 years and the Acropolis Museum in Athens, which has the remaining sculptures that were left in Greece, has left space empty for their return as part of its current display.

But the government claims returning the Parthenon marbles to Greece will not be discussed during the upcoming trade negotiations with the European Union.

But a government spokeswoman ruled out the prospect of discussing re-homing the sculptures during next month's trade talks.

A spokeswoman said: "The EU are still finalising their mandate - this is currently in draft.

"The UK's position on the Parthenon sculptures remains unchanged - they are legal responsibility of the British Museum. That is not up for discussion as part of our trade negotiations."

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Become a supporter

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £20

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Find your nearest pro-European campaigning activities, talks, protests and events nationwide.