Brussels, 31 January 2008
Postal services: Commission welcomes the adoption of the EU Postal Directive. Market Opening brings clear benefits for postal users
Today the European Parliament adopted the new Postal Directive, giving its final political approval to EU postal reform. The vote confirms the broad political consensus on the way forward for opening EU postal markets to full competition. The Commission will assist Member States in implementing the new Directive and will take an active role in monitoring closely market developments to make sure that EU citizens and businesses obtain the benefits from high quality postal services foreseen by the Directive.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso welcomed Parliament's vote, identifying it as a clear example of a Europe of Results: "Postal reform arms Europe's postal operators for the challenges and the opportunities of the communications revolution. Postal Services are vital for our citizens and businesses. Since the first Postal Directive in 1997 performance, quality and reliability of postal services in Europe have substantially increased to the benefit of all postal users. This Directive will further stimulate this process. This demonstrates the common commitment of Parliament, the Council and the Commission to reform to meet the Lisbon goals."
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "This is a shared political success: there is a strong consensus on the new postal Directive between EU institutions in line with the objectives we set out in our proposal. The European Parliament paved the way for the final agreement. This Directive will further promote innovation, lead to better services and help to reduce cost. Postal operators will have stronger incentives to meet consumer and user needs. The viability of the sector and the high quality of universal postal services will be strengthened for EU citizens and businesses".
Maintaining a high quality universal service
The Commission had adopted its proposal only 15 month ago. The text voted today by the European Parliament reflects the overall political agreement between the institutions and maintains the key elements of the Commission's initial proposal, in particular: the accomplishment of the internal market of Community postal services via the abolition of the reserved area in all Member States; the confirmation of the scope and standard of universal service; reinforcement of consumers' rights and upgrading of the role of national regulatory authorities; the offering of a list of measures Member States may take to safeguard and finance, where necessary, the universal service.
The final date for achieving full market opening is 31 December 2010, with the possibility for some Member States to postpone full market opening by two more years as a maximum and the inclusion of a temporary reciprocity clause applying to those Member States that make use of the latter transitional period. The new Directive is the final step in a long reform process that has already seen large areas of EU postal markets opened to competition, with very positive results.
A Lisbon deliverable
Postal services are at the cross roads of the communication and e-commerce sectors, and as such they are a cornerstone of the internal market and account for some 1% of EU GDP. With the removal of reserved areas, users of postal services can expect the services available to them to develop and further improve. Universal service providers will be motivated to become more reliable and efficient and to further increase their customer focus in the light of potential competition from new market entrants. Full market opening will also directly foster the creation of new jobs in new postal companies and in the industries dependent on the postal sector, fully in line with the goals of the Lisbon agenda.
EU postal reform will continue to require close monitoring of the development of competition. The Commission will assist Member States with the implementation of the Directive to secure the high quality of services that EU citizens expect.
Postal Services in the EU are covered by the 1997 Postal Directive
(97/67/EC). This created a regulatory framework which guarantees citizens a
universal service, while gradually limiting the scope of the reserved area
(initially mail under 350 grams, amended in 2002 to 100 grams and reduced on
1/1/2006 to 50 grams). The Directive has aimed at ensuring the best possible
service through a gradual opening of the market. As required by the Directive,
the Commission had confirmed by the end of 2006 the target of full market
opening by means of a further amending Directive. The vote today confirms the
wide political consensus to commit to postal reform.