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Workshop Paper / Communications and Media

1st European Postal Regulation Summary: Universal Service Obligation

Author(s): BRAND-WEINER Ian, SWARS Erik, FINGER Matthias

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ABSTRACT

The present document summarises the content of the presentations delivered during the 1st European Postal Regulation Forum as well as the ensuing discussion. This report is divided in two sections: summaries of the presentations and the synthesis of the debate.

Presentations were delivered by representatives of all different types of stakeholders, including the European Commission, national regulators and competition authorities, postal service providers, other interest groups, as well as by a number of knowledgeable academics. Each of them has offered his/her view on the current state of the Postal USO, based on the following initial questions:

  • How appropriate is the current definition of the Postal USO today, considering the changing communication behaviour of the European citizens?
  • How should a modern Communication USO be defined?
  • What are the financial implications of such a modernised USO definition? In particular for the historical postal operators (Universal Service Providers) in the member countries?

The bulk of the attention was focused on the important changes the postal sector is going through. These are caused by the liberalisation of the sector, but mainly by the change of consumers’ communication behaviour and the substitution to digital services. This change was visualised by several graphs and figures on either communication behaviour, or letter volume.

Consequently, participants demanded that the Postal USO adapts to these changes. Many also favoured a situation in which the USO does not focus specifically on post, but on communication and thus includes as well digital services.