On 8 November, the European Commission published a report on the application of the Postal Services Directive (PSD) and a report on the Cross-Border Parcel Delivery Regulation. The reports highlight the role of digitalisation in changing the postal and parcels sector, creating new opportunities and challenges for postal operators and modifying consumers’ needs and expectations. The Commission stressed the importance of improved transparency, and also underlined that the increasing costs of postal services led to the fact that sometimes Member States had to reduce the scope of their universal service obligation. Furthermore, the reports evidence that there is little harmonisation in how national authorities analyse tariffs, highlighting only sporadic follow-up actions against high tariffs.
With a specific regard to the evaluation of the Postal Services Directive, the Commission states in its evaluation that a potential adaptation is desirable in order to ensure that postal operators and users can fully benefit from technological developments, innovation and e-commerce, while also securing the continued provision of an affordable and high-quality universal service.
This assessment is based on the following arguments:
- The universal service provision has become increasingly costly and universal postal services offer declining benefits to society;
- The achievement of an effective competition in the letter mail segment is needed;
- An insufficient use of standards is detected, which reduces legal certainty and may lead to interoperability issues.
Therefore, the European Commission recommends to further explore a potential adaptation of the regulatory framework in a way to enable the EU postal service to continue to play its role in Europe.
The PSD evaluation builds upon the results of a public consultation carried out in Autumn 2020 to which Ecommerce Europe contributed. In its reply, Ecommerce Europe stressed that the postal channel will continue to be a valuable asset for e-commerce merchants and their consumers, particularly those selling/receiving goods in peripheral regions. However, Ecommerce Europe also pointed out that the current postal regulatory framework may not be fully fit to address issues that have arisen in recent years related to trends and developments that did not exist or were not fully developed when the PSD was adopted, such as digitalisation and e-commerce as well as the subsequent changes in communications, commerce, and consumer behaviour.
Nevertheless, Ecommerce Europe believes that, if any new regulatory intervention is to be proposed, this should always be based on clear evidence of market failure. In this case, the Commission should carefully assess any risk of overlapping with existing rules on dominant position and any possible extension of sectorial vertical market definitions in the future.
Based on the recommendations put forward in the PSD evaluation report, the European Commission will engage with Member States and stakeholders to make sure that such a potential adaption in the future reflects the EU horizontal targets set out in the European Green Deal and the EU Digital Agenda for the digitalisation and sustainability of the postal and parcel sector.
Ecommerce Europe will monitor the policy and legislative developments and engage with policymakers in order to ensure a seamless and balanced regulatory framework.