The postal services sector is of vital importance for commercial users and consumers alike and is considered as a service of general economic interest (SGEI). The postal markets are dynamic and quickly evolving in conjunction with the ever widening markets of communication, advertising and electronic commerce.
Overall in the EU, postal services are estimated to handle 135 billion items per year, reflecting a turnover of about € 90 billion or about 1% of Community Gross Domestic Product (GDP). About two-thirds of this turnover is generated by mail services. The reminder is generated by parcels and express services which are already in the competitive area (i.e., the market is fully open to competing operators).
The objective of the EU postal policy is to accomplish the Single Market for postal services and ensure a high quality universal postal service as part of the Lisbon Agenda. It thus focuses on postal customers, both business and consumers. These objectives are pursued by opening up the sector to competition in a gradual and controlled way on the basis of the regulatory framework of the Postal Directive (Directive 97/67/EC as amended by Directive 2002/39/EC) and as amended by Directive 2008/06/EC ). The improvement of quality of service, in particular in terms of delivery performance and convenient access are fundamental aspects of this policy. The Commission monitors and ensures the correct implementation of the regulatory framework and, where appropriate, proposes changes to this framework in order to achieve the Community's postal policy objectives.
Under the 3rd Postal Directive (Directive 2008/06/EC ), full market opening will be accomplished by 31 December 2010 for the majority of Member States with a further two years allowed for 11 Member States.
The monitoring of the market, technology and regulatory developments will have to continue also after the full market opening in order to safeguard the EU postal policy objectives and the sustainable development of the postal sector in the European Union.
In fact, with the adoption of the Directive 2008/06/EC , the EU postal reform has entered into a new phase. Only if all stakeholders remain truly committed to pursuing them with a constructive spirit and to actively contributing to them, will the objectives of the EU Postal Reform and the internal postal market be achieved and will the European Union and its citizens effectively benefit. The Commission is strongly committed to help Member States and all stakeholders in these efforts and activities.