In particular, the Commission approved the measure because the compensation paid to Polish Post is limited to the additional costs it faces to fulfil its public service mission (so-called "universal service obligation"). Moreover, the design of the mechanism to finance the compensation does not lead to a significant distortion of competition in the Polish postal market.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "This is the first time the Commission has approved the use of a compensation fund mechanism to finance the provision of a universal postal service and I welcome that the Polish system approved today will benefit its postal customers in line with EU state aid rules."
In June 2014, the Polish authorities notified plans for financing universal postal services carried out by Polish Post from 2013 until 2015. These include basic postal services delivered throughout the country at affordable prices and at certain minimum quality requirements.
Under EU state aid rules on public service compensation, adopted in 2011, companies can be compensated for the extra cost of providing a public service subject to certain criteria. This enables Member States to grant state aid for the provision of public services whilst at the same time making sure that companies entrusted with such services do not get overcompensated, which minimises distortions of competition and guarantees an efficient use of public resources.
In this case, the Commission's assessment showed that the compensation to Polish Post is based on a robust methodology, which ensures that it will not exceed the cost of the public service mission. Moreover, the compensation due will be capped at the level of the actual loss incurred by Polish Post as a result of providing the universal service. For 2013, the amount of compensation was estimated at approximately €23 million.
To finance this compensation, the Polish authorities have set up a compensation fund. The possibility to establish such a mechanism is provided for by the 3rd Postal Directive. The fund will be financed by contributions of a maximum of 2% of the revenues earned by all postal providers in Poland, including Polish Post, on universal postal services as well as other postal services that are equivalent to universal services from a customer's point of view. If necessary, this financing will be complemented by direct grants from the state budget. The Commission is satisfied that the level of contributions requested from the different operators to the Polish compensation fund for the period 2013-2015 was proportionate and non-discriminatory, in line with EU state aid rules.
Polish Post is a wholly state-owned company that is the largest provider of postal services in Poland. It has been designated as the universal postal service provider for the entire national territory of Poland from 2013 to 2015.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.38869 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.