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Postal services

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Over 150 members of the postal community attended a stakeholder workshop, held on 20 April 2023 by the European Commission, to discuss the objectives and the proposed approach of the prospective study of the European postal sector that the Commission is currently preparing.

Postal Main Developments study: The Commission has published the 'Main Developments in the Postal Sector (2017-2021)', the latest in a series of studies that assess the most important evolutions in the postal market and the regulatory framework of the EU member countries and EFTA countries. The study finds that the substitution of letter mail for electronic alternatives is continuing to drive letter mail volumes down, pushing prices increases and cost reductions across many European universal service providers. In parallel, the increase in e-commerce, accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has boosted competition in the courier, express and parcel market.

Environmental impact of e-commerce study: The Commission has published the full report and executive summary of a study to assess and analyse the impact of e-commerce driven transport and parcel delivery on air pollution and CO2 emissions.

This environmental study models and assesses greenhouse gas (GHG) and air pollution emissions caused by transport activities carried out for online, hybrid and traditional retail purchases. It models and assesses several case studies that cover a wide variety of shopping and delivery possibilities: online or brick-and-mortar, intercontinental or intra-EU, urban or rural delivery, different product categories, different modes of transport for different transport legs.

Each case study examines whether a specific logistic or consumer trend has potential to reduce GHG emissions. The study lists possibilities and concludes that we need a comprehensive effort to bring all involved stakeholders together and combine measures suited to different local circumstances.

On 30 September 2022, the European Commission and the European Regulators Group for Postal Services met the members of the postal community gathered in Brussels for the third ERGP stakeholders forum. More details and the presentations, under 'Meetings'.

On 29 September 2022 the European Commission held a stakeholder workshop to present and discuss with members of the postal community the preliminary results of the 'Main Developments in the Postal Sector 2017-2021' study. More details and the presentation.

On 8 November 2021, the European Commission adopted the report on the application of the Postal Services Directive and the report on the application and implementation of the Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services:

EU policy on postal services

Postal services play a key role for EU citizens and businesses in the single market. The postal sector (which includes express services) employs about 1.8 million people providing an important source of employment in the EU. The aim of the postal services directive is to ensure that affordable, high quality and efficient postal services are available throughout the EU.

EU postal services policy

EU postal legislation, implementation and enforcement

The postal services directive sets out the objectives for postal services and establishes a regulatory framework for European postal services. The EU Postal Directive Committee, established by the directive, serves as a scrutiny body for the application of postal legislation and for the improvement of quality of service, notably the establishment of quality standards for intra-EU cross-border services.

EU postal legislation, implementation and enforcement

Parcel delivery in the EU

Digitalisation and the development of e-commerce have caused a shift in users' needs and a large increase in the number of parcels being sent. Growth in the parcel and express delivery market was estimated at 13% per year between 2013-2016. To allow consumers and companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to buy and sell products online more easily and confidently across the EU, the regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services was adopted in April 2018. The regulation aims to increase price transparency and regulatory oversight of cross-border parcel delivery services in the EU so that individual consumers and small e-retailers can benefit from more affordable deliveries. One measure foreseen by the regulation is the tool to find public tariffs on cross-border parcel delivery services.

Parcel delivery in the EU

The European Regulators Group for Postal Services

The European Regulators Group for Postal Services (ERGP) reviews postal services in the EU and provides advice to the European Commission. It also aims to facilitate consultation, coordination and cooperation between EU countries and the Commission.

The European Regulators Group for Postal Services

Postal statistics

Since 2014, the Commission has been collecting annual data on postal services in cooperation with national postal regulatory authorities in the context of the 'EU Postal Survey'. The postal statistics offer an analytical working tool for users of postal data in a single source.

Postal statistics

Standardisation in the postal sector

Since 1993, the Commission has promoted and supported the creation of technical standards in the postal sector. The postal services directive recognises the role standardisation plays in benefitting postal customers and operators, for example, by providing a standardised measurement of quality of service.

Standardisation in the postal sector

International activities

The European Commission represents the EU as an official observer to the United Nation’s specialised agency for the postal sector, the Universal Postal Union (UPU). The Commission has advisory status in the European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP). Postal services also form part of EU accession negotiations and free trade agreements in terms of regulatory provisions and commitments.

International activities on postal services

Studies on the postal sector

We commission a number of studies on the postal sector in the EU.

Postal sector studies

Brexit transition period

Stakeholder guidance on EU rules in relation to online purchase with subsequent parcel delivery

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