A two-year reprieve for post offices in the EU to prepare for full liberalisation of their service sector: Mail in the 50-gramme-and-under category will not be swept into the vortex of market-driven competition until January 1st 2011.The European Commission had proposed a 2009 deadline. In Strasbourg, it is felt more time is needed to deliver a stable regulatory framework. In voting for the delay, the European Parliament also suggested that some countries should get special consideration: an additional two-year extension for those that are topographically challenged, such as by sparse populations spread across mountainous territory or on numerous islands, for example France with its Alps, or Greece. Private companies are expected to focus where customers are thick on the ground, so the draft directive leaves EU governments the freedom to offset the costs of providing service in less lucrative corners. Letters under 50 grammes are the last postal category still largely under national monopolies.