THE COMMISSION ADOPTS AN ARTICLE 90(3) DECISION IN RESPECT OF SPANISH POSTAL LEGISLATION
European Commission - IP/90/697 02/08/1990
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 Netherlands.1 OJ No L 10, 12.1.1990.