Brussels, 25 January 2012
State aid: Commission endorses two public‑service compensation measures for the French post office
The European Commission has approved tax relief of €764 million granted by France to the French post office (La Poste) for the purpose of maintaining a high density of postal services over the period 2008-2012. It also authorised compensation of €1.2 billion for the costs incurred by La Poste in carrying out its task of transporting and delivering the press over the same period. The Commission concluded that the two aid measures were compatible with EU state-aid rules because they only partially offset the net costs of the important public service tasks incumbent on La Poste and so did not give it any unfair competitive advantage.
The public‑service contract between the State and La Poste for 2008‑2012 provides for local tax relief of some €150 million/year (€764 million in total over the period in question) to fund La Poste’s territorial coverage and for a grant of some €240 million/year to fund the tasks of transporting and delivering the press (€1.2 billion over the whole period).
The Commission has studied the two measures in connection with the EU’s framework for public‑service compensation adopted in 2005 (see IP/05/937). The two measures are compatible with the EU internal market because they do not overcompensate the postal operator and so comply with Article 106(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which governs the application of competition rules to services of general economic interest.
The task of transporting and delivering the press obliges La Poste to offer advantageous regulated rates to publications of acknowledged general interest, in particular those that provide citizens with general and political information. This task is designed to encourage and promote pluralism of opinion.
Its territorial task is to ensure a high density of postal services over and above the universal service obligation, particularly in rural areas, in keeping with regional development objectives. La Poste meets its obligations through 9000 outlets, with post offices gradually being replaced by partnerships with local shops and town halls to provide contact points that are less expensive to run, something that will gradually reduce costs.
La Poste has been a publicly‑owned French corporation since 23 March 2010 and is France’s traditional postal operator with responsibility for the universal postal service and a number of public‑service obligations, including territorial coverage and transporting and delivering the press. The non-confidential version of this decision will be made available in the State-Aid Register on DG Competition’s website under case number SA.34027 once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. The electronic newsletter ‘State Aid Weekly e-News’ lists the most recent decisions on state aid published in the Official Journal and on the website.
On the same day the Commission also adopted three other state‑aid decisions concerning the postal sector and addressed to Germany, Belgium and Greece respectively, see IP/12/45, MEMO/12/37, MEMO/12/38 and MEMO/12/39.