Europe’s postal services market is to open up to competition. The European Commission says it wants to gradually introduce competition in a controlled way under a framework that ensures a certain level of service. The sector has traditionally been monopolised by national operations but some countries, such as Britain, the Netherlands and Germany, are well on the way to a fully opened postal sector, allowing firms from other member states to deliver mail in their lucrative courier and express markets.
But some states have been reluctant to follow this road rapidly even though the EU has set a deadline of 2009 for the creation of an internal market in postal services. The EU executive insists it wants to maintain a so-called universal minimum service such as post boxes near homes and offices as well as convenient places to buy stamps.