Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade
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Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade

Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Robert Kirkwood Paterson

This Handbook offers a collection of original writings by leading scholars and practitioners in the exciting, rapidly developing field of cultural heritage law. The detailed essays are the product of a multi-year project of the Committee on Cultural Heritage Law of the International Law Association.
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Chapter 6: France

Marie Cornu


The French system controlling the movement of works of art was overhauled by the law of 31 December 1992 that arose from the creation of a single market in the European Community. The opening up of frontiers required rethinking the methods of border control that had previously been based on customs inspections. This new perspective strongly influenced French law, which, from that very moment, was extensively liberalised. To understand current French law, it is necessary to begin with the European context and the legal framework in which the French law exists. Initially, we should try to understand the cultural property controls exercised by European states in the context of the Union's fundamental freedoms, in particular the principle of free movement of goods set forth in Article 26 et seq. of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Moreover, European Community law specifically targeted the field of cultural property in order to compensate for the disruptive effects of the opening up of frontiers, which was likely to undermine the individual protection systems of the state members. In that respect, European Community law aims at two things: on the one hand, to work out the connection between the principle of free movement of goods and the protection of cultural heritage and, on the other hand, to design instruments to compensate for the lack of protection caused by the creation of the single market.

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