Ecommerce Europe’s participation in the Postal Conference of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU

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On 11 April, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, in collaboration with the Belgian Federal Ministry of Economy, organised a “High-Level Conference on the need for a new postal services directive”. The event brought together EU and international policymakers, designated postal operators (DPOs) and logistical providers, trade associations and companies. The aim was to brainstorm on whether the current Postal Services Directive is still fit for purpose and which are the challenges and recent developments a new legislative framework should take into account.

The conference featured keynotes from Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, UPU’s Director General Masahiko Metoki and Deputy Director General Marjan Osvald, Director for Investment in DG GROW Merete Clausen, and was hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Minister of Public Administration, Public Enterprises, Telecommunication and the Postal Services Petra De Sutter. The conference delved into crucial topics and initiatives that will shape the future landscape of the postal sector and last mile parcel delivery within the European Union.

The event consisted of two panels: one focusing on sustainability, titled “Going the extra (last) mile: taking into account ecological and social sustainability in the postal sector”, where panellists debated on the key questions of how to foster sustainability and how to contribute to its success; and another one focusing on digitalisation, titled “New regulatory challenges – a postal services directive fit for the digital age”.

Invited to the second panel, Ecommerce Europe elaborated on the need  for the EU postal legislative framework to take account of the recent trends and realities in the digital economy and the e-commerce sector. However, Ecommerce Europe also pointed out that before considering an update or extension in the scope of the directive, clarity should be provided regarding the definitions among the EU level, the international level (UPU) and the national levels. Indeed, misalignment of the definitions of a postal item, postal provider, postal services as opposed to transport and logistics services, and more, should be at the core of the discussions. At the same time, it is necessary for the new postal legislative framework to harmonise the approach of Member States to revising their national legislative frameworks on postal services, to avoid further fragmenting the Single Market.

In addition, Ecommerce Europe underlined that the Universal Service Obligation should remain the underlying principle of the postal legislation in the EU. This is of utmost importance, perhaps now more than ever, taking into account the latest legislative developments in the national frameworks of certain EU Countries. Other than that, any other change to the PSD from a competition or regulatory perspective should be based on evidence of market failure.

The discussions will feed into the work of the agency mandated by the European Commission to assess which postal scenarios are likely to happen until 2040, in order to serve as basis for policy reflection and initiative from the European Commission in the next mandate.

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