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IP/05/1402

Brussels, 10 November 2005

Future of postal services: Commission asks for users' views

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the future of the EU postal sector. The results of this consultation will help the Commission to understand better the changing needs of consumers and businesses, the potential social and economic impacts of any further reforms and how the universal postal service could best be assured as markets become fully competitive. The consultation is in the form of an online questionnaire. Individuals and businesses have until 27 January to reply. .

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: “We want the users of Europe’s postal services to give us their views on how well they work today, and how they could work better tomorrow.”

In the EU, 135 billion items a year are handled, generating a turnover of about € 88 billion - or about 1% of Community GDP - and directly employing more than 1.6m people. In recent years, quality of service has improved significantly, and in some countries average prices have fallen in real terms. Some countries plan to open up their national markets fully to competition well ahead of the 2009 target date set by the Postal Directive.

In 2006 the Commission will evaluate whether to propose further initiatives on postal services. This consultation demonstrates a commitment to begin this process by listening to the views of both individual and industry users about what they expect from a modern postal service, and how the sector could evolve in the longer term.

The consultation is in two parts:

  • Part 1: a short online questionnaire in all official EU languages covering issues likely to be of general interest.
  • Part 2: more detailed questions on a wider range of issues that have an impact on the sector. This part is optional but likely to be of particular interest to specific stakeholders, such as social partners, consumer and industry associations and high-volume mailers.

Following the evaluation of the consultation responses, a summary of the views expressed will be published on the ‘Your Voice in Europe’ site at the address below.

Background

The postal sector is at the crossroads of three markets vital to the economy: communications, advertising and transportation/logistics. About two-thirds of EU turnover in the sector (ca. €88 billion) is generated by mail services, the rest by courier express and parcel services.

Some EU countries have a reserved area (in which the handling of mail under certain weight and cost limits may be reserved for the postal operator providing the universal service). Indications are that the reserved area will be terminated in three more member states by end 2007: Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. The present course will result in around 60% of EU mail volumes being opened to competition by then.

The Commission's aim is to implement a single market for postal services, by opening up the sector to competition in a gradual and controlled way, within a regulatory framework which assures a universal service. The improvement of the quality of service, in particular in terms of delivery time and affordable tariffs are fundamental aspects of this policy.
The questionnaire can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/consultations
For more information, please see MEMO/05/413 and the following website:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/post/consultations_en.htm


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