EU must tackle excessive cross-border parcel delivery costs

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The cross-border delivery industry has to be made more competitive. [Africa Studio/Shutterstock]

Cross-border parcel delivery is far too expensive in Europe, with prices up to 4 or 5 times higher than national parcel delivery. We are missing opportunities for growth and jobs in the digital market if we don’t break down these unfair pricing practices, writes Lambert van Nistelrooij MEP.

Lambert van Nistelrooij MEP is the spokesperson on Internal Market and Consumer Protection for the Dutch Christian-Democratisch Appèl (CDA) in the European Parliament.

Sending a 2 kilo parcel from Poland to Slovakia costs €8.20, while sending a domestic parcel in Poland costs €2.58. Comparable price differences exist among other European countries. These differences do not reflect actual costs and cannot be justified, even when taking into account distance and different labour costs. This is an odd situation: we do have a single European internal market, don’t we?

The European e-commerce market is rapidly developing. Sales amounted to €368.7 billion in 2014, up almost 15% from the year before. About 2.5 million jobs in Europe depend on e-commerce. More and more consumers make use of the internet as a shopping platform. Also we can see a growing number of start-ups and SME’s entering the market.

However, almost 90% of the start-ups fail to scale-up beyond the borders of their home country. They are often hampered by expensive and sometimes inefficient cross-border parcel delivery. Also, small online shops have difficulties accessing reverse logistics solutions and their customers regularly face late delivery.

The point is that both online and offline consumers, start-ups and SMEs should benefit from the advantages of the digital internal market. That is not the case at the moment. Therefore we have to make the market for cross-border parcels more competitive and more efficient. Europe should not yield to the well-established interests of national and international delivery firms. Just like we tackled the unfair mobile roaming prices in Europe we need to tackle unfair cross-border parcel delivery prices.

Without efficient and affordable cross-border parcel delivery services we will miss opportunities to boost economic growth and employment in the EU. Therefore we urge the European Commission to show ambition and to present as soon as possible a proposal to make prices more transparent. The interests of consumers and SMEs should have our priority.

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