The purpose of the EU policy in the postal sector is to create a Single Market for postal services. This is being done in two stages:
- introducing competition by gradually opening up markets (completed at the end of 2012).
- ensuring that reliable and high quality postal services are permanently available throughout the EU at affordable prices.
Member States must ensure a basic postal service is available. This includes:
- collecting, sorting, transporting and distributing of letters up to 2 kg and parcels up to 10 kg
- services for registered and insured items
- deliveries at least 5 working days a week
- all at affordable prices
- available for all citizens.
This is called the universal service obligation.
The postal sector is changing rapidly. Letter traffic has fallen in many countries. This is partly because of the growth in digital communications. However, the growth in e-commerce has increased the number of parcels being handled by postal services. So it is important for the postal industry to make it easier to deliver physical goods bought online.
Facts and Figures
The following figures are based on data collected by the European Commission for postal services (but without data from ESTAT).
The graph below shows the public tariff for 20g letters (in Purchasing Power Parities).
Purchasing power parities (PPPs) are indicators of price level differences across countries. PPPs indicate how many currency units a particular quantity of goods and services costs in different countries. PPPs can be used to eliminate the effect of price level differences across countries.
Blue – prices for post sent from one EU country to another
Green – prices for post within a single country.
Priority mail prices in PPPs (2016)
- All countries charge much higher prices for deliveries abroad.
- The biggest gaps between cross-border and domestic services are mainly in some Eastern EU countries.
Domestic transit time performance
Transit time describes the time needed for postal items to be delivered. This is measured from the time of dispatch (when a person posts a letter) to the item’s arrival at the final destination (when the postal service delivers the letter to the house or premises of the recipient).
*Member States revised figures for 2013, compared to last edition on the Single Market Scoreboard
Using the same methodology as the EU postal sector study , the chart above shows the percentage of priority mail delivered the next working day (D+1), in the same country.
It also shows the targets set for this by national governments.
The chart divides EU countries into 3 groups, on the basis of (1) GDP per capita and (2) when they joined the EU:
Western countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden & UK
Southern countries – Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal & Spain
Eastern countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
- Most western & southern countries meet the next-day target in 90 % of cases, but performance is decreasing in some of them.
- The eastern countries' performance is varied (significant improvements in some but not in others), but overall performance seems to stabilize.
Romania falls a long way below the EU average. Note however that data on performance is not available for all years.
Bulgaria's performance decreased in 2016, after having steadily improved from 2012 to 2015, whereas in Poland performance has decreased over the period 2012-2016.
- No data on next-day delivery for Spain as the Spanish legal performance standard is 'delivery by the 3rd working day'. For Austria and the Netherlands data is not published because of confidentiality for some or all of the years.