In the early ‘90s, the European Union has dealt with the subject of the protection and conservation of cultural goods, especially by the action of those competent bodies of it, who have adopted binding legislative measures, in accordance with the European Union Treaty of 1987 (art. 130 R,S,T).
Nevertheless, since that moment it has been considered necessary to act in specifying the basic legislation, in order to guarantee a stronger presence of the European Community in this field.
This requirement has been satisfied in the draft text of the Maastricht Treaty, signed on 7th February 1992. In the Preamble, the States parties declare they’re ready to take a new step into the european integration process, in particular by putting in practice one closest cooperation among european citizens of different nationalities. In other words, it has been provided to create a new citizenship, for all the nationalities of member States, so as to adopt one common jurisdiction for new fields (education, culture, persons’ safety, consumers’ defence).
The possibility to join the common sense of being member of the European Union with all the different national or regional traditions and cultures has brought the european bodies to give emphasis to the cultural action. This can be seen in the contents of the Maastricht Treaty, in art. 3, 92 – paragraph 3 (d), 128, Title IX.
Article 3: one of the main objectives for the European Union action is "the support for an education and instruction of quality, and for the flourishing of member States’cultures".
Article 92§3 (d): in respect of the legislation which sets for the activities in the common market, the Union is requested to support the promotion of the culture and the heritage’s conservation, on condition that it isn’t in contrast with the common interest of the Community itself".
Article 128: the European Union is requested to support the cultural action of member States, in respect of individual national and regional differences, and the cultural action has, as its main objective, the protection of the common cultural heritage.
As we see, the Maastricht Treaty, in relation to the cultural action, is a real legislative basis for a strong intervention in the field of protection and conservation of cultural heritage, not only "national" anymore, but "european" too.