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Postal services

Reporting period: 01/2016 – 12/2016

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The purpose of EU policy in the postal sector is to create a single market for postal services. This is being done in 2 stages:

  1. introducing competition by gradually opening up markets (completed at the end of 2012).
  2. ensuring that reliable, 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:

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 Commission for postal services.

Priority mail prices in PPPs (2017)

The graph below shows the public tariff for 20 g 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. They 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.


  • All countries charge much higher prices for deliveries abroad.
  • The biggest gaps between cross-border and domestic services occur 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).

All clusters

Eastern Europe

Southern Europe

Western Europe

* Member States' revised figures for 2013, compared to the last Single Market Scoreboard

Using the same methodology as the EU postal sector study, the chart above shows the percentage of priority mail delivered by 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, reflecting (1) GDP per capita and (2) when they joined the EU:

  • Most western countries meet the next-day target in 90% of cases, but performance is worsening in some of them.
  • The eastern and southern countries’ performance, with a few exceptions, are deteriorating.
  • The performances of Romania, Poland and Bulgaria, which fall far below the EU average anyway, are continuing to deteriorate. In Greece, next-day delivery fell significantly in 2017.
  • There is no data on next-day delivery in Spain as the Spanish legal performance standard is "delivery by the 3rd working day". No data are published on Austria and the Netherlands, as confidentiality applies to some or all the years concerned.


The Commission: