Member states have reached a compromise deal to liberalise postal services in the EU by 2011, following 20 years of Commission-led negotiations to open up the sector. Luxembourg and ten other member states were granted two-year exemptions.
With the exception of Luxembourg, EU member states endorsed a Portuguese Presidency compromise during the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council in Luxembourg yesterday (1 October).
The deal reflects a first-reading agreement reached by Parliament in July (EURACTIV 12/07/07) and includes the following main elements:
- Full postal liberalisation by 2011 (instead of the Commission’s preferred date of 2009), including for letters under 50 grammes;
- The possibility of delaying opening markets until 2013 for Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia;
- Under a so-called reciprocity clause, member states that open their markets by 2011 can deny market access until 2013 to those member states that choose to delay liberalisation;
- Minimum pay provisions and postal workers’ right to strike will not be affected by the law;
- Universal Service Obligation (USO) – member states can dictate uniform tariffs between rural and urban areas, sufficient access to post offices and minimum delivery requirements.
Financing provisions for USOs will be decided by member states, who can either fund the service with monies from state coffers or oblige operators to pay into a common fund. The Commission, which reserves the right to scrutinise the financing plans, will be required to help member states to calculate the cost of universal services.