On 26 January, the Transport and Tourism (TRAN) Committee of the European Parliament conducted an exchange of views on the Proposal for a Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services. The exchange of views opened with a presentation from the European Commission, explaining the basis for the Proposal and justifying its provisions. There was then an opportunity for the members of the Committee to respond to the Commission’s presentation, and give their perspective on the proposal more broadly. This included the rapporteur for the file, Lucy Anderson (S&D, UK), as well the shadow rapporteurs for the other political groups.
Greater price transparency
Harrie Temminck, Deputy Head of Unit, Public Interest Services at DG Grow, presented the proposal on behalf of the European Commission, and identified one of the key priorities of the Regulation as ensuring greater price transparency for cross-border parcel delivery services.
In particular, the Proposal aims at promoting greater transparency over so-called terminal fees, which are agreed upon by national universal service providers (USPs) for cross-border parcel delivery services. Under the Proposal, USPs would be obliged to inform regulators about fees, with regulators then conducting an assessment of their affordability.
Several MEPs expressed their concerns about the Proposal, and, in particular, the administrative burden it would place on operators. Markus Ferber (EPP, Germany), the shadow rapporteur for the EPP group, and Kosma Złotowski (ECR, Poland), the shadow rapporteur for the ECR group, both expressed concerns about the administrative burden for postal operators, with MEP Złotowski arguing this would result in increased prices. Meanwhile, Pavel Telička (ALDE, Czech Republic) argued that the measures proposed would not ensure price transparency or reduce prices.
The need for standardization
Ecommerce Europe views increased price oversight as an important element for a better parcel delivery market in Europe. Despite this, Ecommerce Europe sees the current provisions as a sub-optimal means of innovating the market, and, in particular, stresses the importance of harmonizing postal and supply chain management standards to enable one item label for the delivery of merchandise to end customers.
In this context, the work that Ecommerce Europe has been doing in the CEN standardization committee is of very high importance. It was highly reassuring to see Mr. Temminck refer to the importance of standardization in his comments, and especially that he expressed the view, shared by Ecommerce Europe, that the International Postal Corporation’s (IPS) Interconnect programme is a positive step but should be more open to all operators.
Opening up the network to third parties
A further key aspect of the proposed Regulation is to open up certain postal networks to third parties, in order to promote greater competition in the postal sector. Several MEPs were concerned that this approach was unfair to USPs. For example, MEP Anderson questioned the approach, stressing that USPs’ networks are the result of investment and clear justification. In the view of Ecommerce Europe, the establishment of a level-playing field between all postal operators, including both incumbents and new entrants, is essential.
Moving forward, MEP Anderson announced that she plan to conduct a meeting in the TRAN Committee on 1 March with experts and stakeholders, and hoped to debate her draft report in TRAN at the beginning of May. After this, MEPs will submit amendments to the draft report, and will then vote on the amendments and the draft report. Following on from the vote in Committee, the file will be scheduled for a vote in the Plenary session of the European Parliament.