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Council adopts general approach on the return of cultural objects

On 25-26 November 2013, the Council discussed education, youth, culture and sport issues and adopted a general approach on the proposal concerning the return of cultural objects.

Return of unlawfully removed cultural objects

The Council reached a general approach on the proposal for a directive on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a member state. The proposal, which is a review of directive 93/7/EEC, introduces several important changes:

  • extension of the scope - any cultural object defined as a national treasure will be eligible for return
  • extension of deadlines for initiating return proceedings
  • placing the burden of proof on the possessor of the work of art when it comes to compensation
  • improved administrative cooperation and information sharing between national authorities

The general approach will enable the incoming Greek presidency to start informal negotiations with the European Parliament. The aim is to adopt the proposal before the end of this Parliament's term.


EU education ministers adopted conclusions on the global dimension of European higher education, which call for comprehensive strategic approaches towards the internationalisation of higher education. These approaches should cover three main areas:

  • student and staff mobility
  • internationalisation of curricula and digital learning
  • strategic cooperation, partnerships and capacity-building

The main purpose of internationalisation and modernisation is to improve the quality of higher education in Europe and to better prepare learners to live in a global world and work in a global economy.

New digital learning tools, such as Open educational resources, may have important consequences for higher education systems. For the first time ministers exchanged ideas on the opportunities these new online tools bring and how to make the best use of them at national and EU level.


The Council adopted conclusions on enhancing the social inclusion of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). The conclusions seek to address the social exclusion of NEETs in a more systematic way, with measures in the area of prevention, education, training and non-formal learning, transition from education to employment, and employment itself.

4 EU measures to boost youth employment

  • Youth guarantee schemes: to help ensure that all young people under 25 get a quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed
  • Youth employment initiative: EU funding to support young people in regions where youth unemployment rates are above 25%
  • Quality traineeships and apprenticeships: to improve the transition from school to work
  • Labour mobility: making it easier for young Europeans to find a job, traineeship or apprenticeship in another EU country

Other topics on the agenda

Media freedom and pluralism

The Council adopted conclusions on media freedom and pluralism in the digital environment.


The ministers for sport adopted a Council recommendation on promoting health-enhancing physical activity, the first recommendation in the field of sport at EU level. They also adopted conclusions on the contribution of sport to the EU economy.


Video highlights

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