BRUSSELS (AFP) — Europeans could include the issue of stolen cultural artifacts, especially Greek or Roman antiquities, in negotiations on their future relationship with Britain, according to the latest draft of the EU negotiating mandate.
The mandate, seen by AFP, sets out the EU's objectives and red lines and now includes a call on the parties to "return unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin."
Early reports, denied by officials on Wednesday, said the mention pertained to the Parthenon marbles, the ancient sculptures commonly known as the Elgin marbles that are on display in the British Museum in London.
EU diplomats insisted that this was not the case, but aimed to ensure stolen artifacts that arrived into post-Brexit Britain could not be sold legally.
A British government spokeswoman ruled out the prospect of discussing the iconic sculptures during next month's trade talks.
"The EU are still finalizing their mandate — this is currently in draft," she said.
The United Kingdom left the EU on January 31 and has entered a transition period where it continues to apply EU rules.
The British and Europeans are working to agree on the basis of their future relationship during this period, which will end on December 31 2020.
© Agence France-Presse
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.