Interview: Parliament readies for ‘mail battle’

German MEP Markus Ferber, rapporteur on postal reform, has sided with his native country’s view that the postal market should be fully liberalised by 2009. He shared his views with EURACTIV ahead of key Parliament committee votes on 2-8 May.

The question of how best to finalise the 15-year-long process of postal liberalisation will be at the centre of discussions within Parliament from 2-8 May, as four different committees are expected to give their opinions on Rapporteur Markus Ferber’s report on the Commission proposal to fully open up the sector by 1 January 2009. 

In an interview with EURACTIV, Ferber has confirmed his intention to set a 2009 deadline for eliminating the so-called “reserved area”, which currently allows incumbent operators to retain a lucrative monopoly on the delivery of letters weighing less than 50 grammes. 

The system allows public operators to finance the cost of providing a universal service (collecting and delivering letters for all citizens, wherever their location, at least once a day, five days a week) and a number of member states, led by France, believe the service will suffer if the mechanism is scrapped. 

But Ferber believes it is time to put an end to this monopoly, saying: “Even in a fully liberalised area, the costs of the universal service obligation can be earned in that area… Look at Sweden. It is a huge country with a lot of rural zones and they have organised postal liberalisation without compensation.” 

He nevertheless does not rule out the possibility of new financial mechanisms to ensure that the universal service is preserved and underlines the necessity of focusing protection on “normal people sending one or two letters a month”, rather than on big business. 

Ferber also hopes to include certain provisions aimed at imposing harmonised minimum social standards for postal workers across Europe, similar to what was done in the Services Directive to avoid a “race to the bottom” as companies compete in the market. 

To read the full interview with Marcus Ferber, click here. 

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