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Brussels, 8 October 2009

Postal services: Commission refers Greece to Court of Justice over restrictions on courier services

The European Commission has decided to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice over its national legislation that imposes additional burdens and obligations on operators providing courier, parcel and mail services. In the Commission's view, this legislation is incompatible with EU rules on postal services. This referral follows the adoption of a reasoned opinion in January 2009 ( IP/09/157 ).

Additional burdens on courier services

Under the national rules in question, (Ministerial Decree A1/44351 of 12/10/2005), courier services are not authorised to transport consignments in excess of 20 kilograms but must engage the services of independent transporters. This severely limits the range of services couriers may provide while, at the same time, driving up costs for consumers. Also, duly authorised courier services, which operate through a franchise system across the national territory, are experiencing additional operational problems. This is because they must lease trucks on behalf of their franchisees unless the latter holds a separate general licence, which can only be issued by EETT, the national Communications and Postal Regulator. EETT takes the view that franchisees do not require a separate general licence.

The best solution for all parties is to repeal the contested national measure and remove the prohibition on courier services to transport consignments in excess of 20 kilograms as this severely restricts e-commerce, which is a growth sector in Greece.

The continued application of the contested national rules means that the full attainment of the objective of the postal directive (97/67/EC), the creation of an internal market for postal services, is being jeopardised, thus depriving customers of new and competitively priced services.

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