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Standardisation in the postal sector

Standardisation in the postal sector

Since 1993, the European Commission has promoted and supported the process of technical standardisation in the postal sector. The Postal Directive recognises the vital role standardisation plays in benefitting postal customers, such as by providing a standardised measurement of quality.

Postal standardisation focuses on:

  • the harmonisation of technical methods at EU level within the universal postal service (in particular for external measurement of quality of service performance)
  • enabling interoperability of postal industry stakeholders.

How it works

A dedicated CEN Technical Committee (TC/331) is working on defining European Standards for postal services. The standards adopted by this Committee are then published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ 05.02.2005; C 30, page 3).

Most of the standards adopted by the CEN are subject to voluntary implementation. The Postal Directive requires the use of European technical standards in some cases. For example, EU countries are required to ensure that the quality of service is measured under standardised conditions.

Based on the progress achieved within the first mandate (M/240, 21 kB) for postal services, a new CEN mandate (M/312, 23 kB) was issued by the Commission in 2001 and a third mandate (633 kB) was issued in 2008 (M/428). The current mandate allows European harmonisation of technical standards to be continued for postal services, as required by the Postal Directive. Postal standardisation was identified as a priority in the EU Annual Programme for standardisation [COM(2014)0500 final] and a fourth mandate will be issued in 2015.

The CEN Technical Committee takes into account the measures adopted at international level, and in particular those decided upon within the Universal Postal Union (UPU). Co-operation between UPU and CEN was reinforced by the signature of a Memorandum Of Understanding (1 MB) between them in 2001.

Measuring the quality of services

Improving quality of service is a cornerstone of EU policy for postal services. The Postal Directive establishes requirements for setting quality of service targets, performing independent measurement and publishing results. In particular, quality standards for intra-community cross-border mail have been set for the fastest standard category of mail services as follows:

  • 85% D+3 delivery
  • 97% D+5 delivery

Types of standards

  • National standards - quality standards for national services are set by EU countries. Some of these standards have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
  • European standard - a European standard for measuring the end-to-end transit time of domestic and cross-border single-piece priority mail collected, processed and delivered by postal service operators has been adopted by CEN in order to ensure EU-wide harmonised measurement methods. This European standard (EN13850:2012) had to be implemented by EU countries by 30 June 2013.
  • Other European standards – other standards concerning the measurement of quality of service are developed by the CES/TC331. Some of these standards have regulatory implications.

The International Post Corporation (IPC) has been performing an independent measurement programme called UNEX since 1994.

More information

  • IPCUNEX Programme description and results