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European Commission - IP/90/697   02/08/1990

Other available languages: FR DE

   The Commission has addressed a Decision to the Spanish Government  asking
   it  to take the necessary steps to ensure that the international  express
   letter  delivery service is liberalized.  The Commission  considers  that
   the  Spanish  legislative  provisions reserving  such  delivery  services
   exclusively  to  the Post Office are incompatible with  Article 90(1)  in
   conjunction with Article 86 of the EEC Treaty.
   The  Commission's Decision is based on Article 90(3) of the  EEC  Treaty,
   which  gives  it  responsibility  for ensuring  the  application  of  the
   competition rules to public undertakings.
   The  Spanish  Government  now has two months within  which  to  take  the
   necessary measures to comply with the Commission's Decision.
   By  reserving international express courier services to the  Post  Office
   alone, the Spanish authorities have extended the services which only  the
   Post  Office  has  the right to perform to a market  which  is  currently
   expanding   strongly   thanks  to  the  investment  and   activities   of
   international courier firms.  However, the express delivery market is not
   reserved to the Post Office in the other Member States or in the rest  of
   the industrialized countries.  The Spanish postal arrangements thus  have
   the  effect  of preventing private international couriers  from  offering
   their  services in Spain.  If the rules were applied to the letter,  they
   would  thus  deprive  the Spanish market of services  which  have  become
   essential in the context of the rapid internationalization of the Spanish
   economy.  This  is all the more the case as the Spanish Post Office  does
   not   at   present  offer  equivalent  services  either   in   Spain   or
   internationally.  The  express delivery service operated by  the  Spanish
   Post  Office serves only the main towns and cities in Spain and  provides
   express deliveries to only a limited number of countries.
   The  Commission  therefore considers that the Spanish rules result  in  a
   restriction in supply, which is prohibited by the Treaty.
   In  accordance with Article 90(2) of the EEC Treaty, the Commission  also
   considered  whether  the  exclusive rights given to the  Post  Office  in
   respect of international express delivery services could be justified  on
   objective  grounds,  such as public service  requirements.  However,  the
   Commission reached the conclusion that this was not the case, since  this
   market was of secondary importance to the Spanish Post Office.
                                     - 2 -
   Furthermore,   the  Commission  has  always  taken  the  view  that   the
   development  of  cross-frontier  express delivery  services  was  in  the
   Community's  interest.  Such  services are of crucial importance  to  the
   growth of intra-Community trade and the operation of the common market.
   Previously, as a result of action by the Commission, the Federal Republic
   of  Germany (in 1984), Belgium and France (in 1985) and Italy  (in  1989)
   removed legal constraints preventing international express delivery firms
   from operating in those countries.
   On  20 December 19891,  the  Commission  adopted  a  formal  Decision  in
   respect of the Netherlands, which reserved express delivery services  for
   letters  of less than 500 grams to the PTT, up to a  certain  price.  The
   Commission  took the view that the minimum price, which was  higher  than
   some  rates  charged  previously by private  express  couriers,  unjustly
   reduced  the  scope for such couriers to provide their  services  in  the
1 OJ No L 10, 12.1.1990.

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