Consumer law/free movement of goods: Competition rules in the postal sector

United Kingdom

Competition rules in the postal sector

The Commission has issued a Notice in which it sets out its approach in attempting to ensure a "level playing field" in postal services in the Community. The Notice complements the recent framework Directive on liberalising the postal services.

  • Market definition
    Collection, sorting, transport and delivery of mail are essentially separate activities which are combined in the monopoly service in many Member States.

  • Dominance
    Monopoly postal operators with the sole right to distribute items reserved by Member States (in order to maintain a universal service for all) are by definition in a dominant position as defined by Article 86 of the Treaty. They must not therefore hinder rivals from competing fairly in the non-reserved postal segments.

  • Cross-subsidisation
    Cross-subsidisation will not be allowed in order to prevent monopoly holders from undercutting competitors' prices. Transparent accounting methods will have to be used.

  • Cross-border mail
    The maintenance of any exclusive or special rights for postal operators must be justified under the EC Treaty.

  • Supervision
    National regulators must be independent and not at the same time provide postal services in competition with rival private companies.