In spring 2016, Belgium notified plans to the Commission to compensate bpost for delivering certain services over the period 2016-2020. In particular, Belgium intends to compensate bpost in the period 2016 to 2020 for the provision of certain public services. These include maintaining a post office network throughout Belgium, delivering pension payments, providing universal cash at counter services, delivering printed material related to elections as well as distributing recognised newspapers and periodicals in Belgium.
Under EU rules for state aid in the form of public service compensation, adopted in 2011, companies can be compensated for the extra cost of providing a public service subject to certain criteria. They enable Member States to grant state aid for the provision of public services while at the same time making sure that companies entrusted with such services are not given an unfair competitive advantage by being compensated by more than the cost of providing these services. The rules aim to minimise distortions of competition and to guarantee an efficient use of public resources.
In the case at hand, Belgium organised a public consultation which confirmed the essential social and economic role of the public services entrusted to bpost. Furthermore, the Commission's assessment showed that the compensation granted to bpost for the provision of these services is based on a robust methodology, which ensures that it will not exceed the cost of the public service mission.. This compensation mechanism also includes incentives for bpost to increase the efficiency and quality of its public services.
Finally, the task of delivering recognised newspapers and periodicals has been entrusted to bpost following an open, transparent and non-discriminatory tender. This is in line with Belgium's commitment under the Commission's May 2013 decision endorsing the public service compensation for bpost between 2013 and 2015.
On this basis, the Commission concluded that the Belgian measures are in line with EU state aid rules.
bpost is the leading postal operator in Belgium. Its core business is collecting, sorting, transporting and delivering letters and parcels.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.42366 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition 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.