20 years FENAP – 20 years in the European coin collectors’ service

February 23, 2010 – FENAP, the Federation of European Numismatic Trade Associations, is in existence for 20 years now. Within this international framework, representatives of the different countries meet once or twice a year to discuss what individual problems occur and whether these problems might be fixed on an international level.
For several years, the World Money Fair in Berlin has been established as a magnificent rendezvous point. Here, the FENAP met again in 2010. Albert M. Beck, President of Honour of the World Money Fair, welcomed the representatives of nine European nations: Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Switzerland and Spain. FENAP President Dr Hubert Lanz deplored the difficulties in convincing the colleagues in the numismatic trade especially in the new EU member states of the advantages associations have to offer when it comes to representing the interests of both dealers and collectors vis-à-vis governments. In many countries of the East there are no national associations of coin dealers whatsoever that can become FENAP members. That is regrettable since it would be crucially important everywhere to defend the right of collecting and trading coins more effectively. Even though the representatives of the present countries stated that the work of associations focused on different main areas, it nevertheless became apparent that almost all faced trade barriers. In Germany and Italy it revolves around the Protection of Cultural Property, in Spain and Great Britain it is more a problem of the new Law on Money Laundering compelling buyers to reveal not only their name and address but also to provide information about the origin of the money involved in buying, let us say, bullion coins. In Norway and Austria the focus is laid on combating counterfeiting.

The President of FENAP again noted that numerous states act in violation of art. 30 of the Treaty of Nice and, therefore, Lisbon as well (former art. 36 of the Treaty of Maastricht and Rome). There it is laid down that it is generally legal to issue prohibitions and restrictions in regard to import, export and goods in transit “on grounds of public morality (whatever that means, author’s note), public policy or public security; the protection of health and life of humans, animals or plants; the protection of national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value; or the protection of industrial and commercial property.” There is, however, one clear limitation: “Such prohibitions or restrictions shall not, however, constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade between Member States.”
Meaning that if a good can be legally traded in Europe it must likewise be possible to import and export this good without restrictions within the EU.

Apart from that, the COUNCIL REGULATION (EEC) no. 3911/92 of December 9th, 1992, on the export of cultural goods has adopted the following regulation: “However, without prejudice to paragraph 4, the Member State which is competent in accordance with the two indents in the first subparagraph may not require export licences for the cultural goods specified in the first and second indents of category A1 of the Annex where they are of limited archaeological or scientific interest, and provided that they are not the direct product of excavations, finds and archaeological sites within a Member State, and that their presence on the market is lawful.
The export licence may be refused, for the purposes of this Regulation, where the cultural goods in question are covered by legislation protecting national treasures of artistic, historical or archaeological value in the Member State concerned.”
Since most coins are not the product of excavations but come from old collections and clearly are of limited scientific interest, trading them is legal and the import and export should be not restricted. Unfortunately, there has been no precedent yet before the European Court of Justice. Should it be possible to unequivocally determine the legal position, FENAP would clearly support it.

The entire text of the Treaty of Lisbon is available at

The entire text of the Council Regulation no. 3911/92 is available at

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