The report provides information on economic, social and employment patterns, technological aspects, and quality of service in the postal sector, in line with Article 23 of Directive 2008/6/EC.
The report is accompanied by a staff working document which provides more detailed information and includes an annex on the calculation of the net cost of the Universal Service Obligation.
The report finds that affordable and reliable postal and parcel services are still crucial for the Single Market, although the nature of their role is changing as new technology drives e-substitution and a growing number of online purchases. The number of letters has declined across the EU and between 2012 and 2013 the average rate of decline across the EU28 was 4.85%, although some Member States have seen much sharper falls in the volume of letters that are being sent. Nevertheless, prices for 20g letters remain affordable and the quality of service is generally good at both domestic and intra-EU level. Competition in the letter market has been slow to develop, despite full market opening across the EU from 2013.
Parcel markets on the other hand are growing, although estimates of the size of the market vary and the number of parcels per capita varies greatly between EU countries. The UK and Germany had double the EU28 average of 13 parcels per capita in 2011, while several Member States only have 2 parcels per capita  . Given the increasing importance of parcel delivery and the need to avoid fragmentation of the single market, the Digital Single Market Strategy  announced that the Commission would bring forward measures to improve the price transparency and regulatory oversight of cross-border parcel delivery in 2016.
In 2013 around 1.2 million people were employed by universal service providers. Other letter and parcel providers will increase this total: one study estimated that 272,000 people were directly employed by the express industry in 2010  . Employment by universal service providers has declined, at a rate of 4.4% between 2012 and 2013, though given the limited development of competition in the letter market and the fall in letter volumes, e-substitution appears to have been a greater cause of employment reductions than the gradual opening of the letter market to competition.
The report concludes that the postal market continues to evolve rapidly and ongoing close monitoring and further analysis are needed. This is particularly important in order to be able to respond to changes in the technical, economic and social environment, and to the needs of users to ensure the sustainability of the sector in the future. The Commission will publish statistics annually from 2016 to provide regular updates on developments in the letter and parcel markets in the EU. Statistics for 2013 are already available.