Why are postal services important

on the application of the Postal Services Directive

(2016/2010 (INI))

The European Parliament,

- having regard to Articles 49 and 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services within the Union,

- having regard to Articles 101 and 102 TFEU on competition rules for businesses,

- based on Article 14 TFEU,

- having regard to Protocol No. 26 to the TFEU on services of general interest,

- having regard to Directive 97/67 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 1997 on common rules for developing the internal market for Community postal services and improving the quality of service (1), as amended by Directive 2002/39 / EG and 2008/6 / EG (hereinafter "Postal Services Directive"),

- having regard to the Commission Decision of 10 August 2010 setting up the European Regulators Group for Postal Services (2),

- having regard to Directive 2013/11 / EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on forms of alternative settlement of consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22 / EC (3),

- having regard to Regulation (EU) No. 524/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on the online settlement of consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004 and Directive 2009 / 22 / EG (4),

- having regard to Directive 2011/83 / EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Directive 93/13 / EEC of the Council and Directive 1999/44 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577 / EEC and Directive 97/7 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (5),

- having regard to Directive 95/46 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data (6),

- having regard to the Commission report of 17 November 2015 on the application of the Postal Services Directive (COM (2015) 0568) and the Commission staff working document annexed to this report (SWD (2015) 0207),

- having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 6 May 2015 entitled "A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe" (COM (2015) 0192),

- having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2013 entitled "Roadmap to Completing the Single Market for Parcel Delivery: Building Confidence in Delivery Services and Promoting E-Commerce" (COM (2013) 0886),

- having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 29 November 2012 on "An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU" (COM (2012) 0698),

- having regard to the communication from the Commission of 11 January 2012 on "A coherent framework for building trust in the digital single market for e-commerce and online services" (COM (2011) 0942),

- having regard to the Commission's White Paper of 28 March 2011 entitled "Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a competitive and resource-efficient transport system" (COM (2011) 0144),

- having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2014 on an integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU (7),

- having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on 'Towards a Act on the Digital Single Market' (8),

- having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0254 / 2016),

A. whereas the letter mail market is still an economic sector with good prospects for growth and more competition, even if the volume of letter mail in the EU rose by an average of 4 between 2012 and 2013, according to the Commission's postal statistics database, Has decreased by 85%, the same as the decrease in the volume of letters over the past 10 years, largely due to the replacement by electronic means of communication;

B. whereas the implementation of the Postal Services Directive has helped to open up domestic mail markets to competition but has been slow and has not led to the completion of the internal market for postal services as the sector is in most Member States is still dominated by the universal service providers;

C. whereas the use of ICT is a constant contributor to the growth of the postal service sector, as it opens up opportunities for innovation and allows the market to grow;

D. whereas new entrants have mainly focused on large business customers and densely populated areas;

E. whereas the parcel delivery market, on the other hand, is highly competitive and innovative and fast growing, with 33% growth in volume between 2008 and 2011, and whereas the e-commerce is a key factor in the growth of the market;

F. whereas the widespread use of remote-controlled flying machines (drones) opens up new, fast, environmentally friendly and efficient parcel delivery options, especially in sparsely populated, remote and distant areas;

G. whereas consumers and small businesses report that parcel delivery problems, particularly high prices, have deterred them from selling and buying more in other Member States;

I. Universal services: improving the independence of national regulators

1. Notes that the minimum standards in connection with the universal service obligation (mail weighing up to 2 kg, parcels weighing up to 10-20 kg, registered and insured mail and other services of general economic interest such as newspapers and magazines), which are regulated in the EU in particular to the effect that a minimum level of universal service must be guaranteed in every part of the EU, whereby the member states are free to set higher standards, generally in line with customer demand, certain detailed requirements that are not subject to any regulation on EU Level, but rightly set by the national regulatory authorities entrusted with this task;

2. Notes that the primary task of national regulators is to ensure the general purpose of the Postal Services Directive, which is the permanent provision of universal services; Calls on the Member States to expand the tasks and independence of the national regulatory authorities by setting high requirements for the professional qualifications of employees and ensuring fair and non-discriminatory access to vocational training, limited working hours and legal protection against unfounded redundancies and in the event For a dismissal, an exhaustive list of reasons justifying such a dismissal (for example a serious legal violation) is drawn up so that regulators can meet their obligations under the Postal Services Directive in a neutral, transparent and timely manner

3. Believes that any expansion of the tasks of national regulators under the new regulation in the parcel market must address the "cherry-picking" problem in the delivery industry and that minimum standards must be set for all operators in order to ensure fair and equal competition ;

4. Believes that the national regulatory authorities can only fulfill their duty of neutrality if their regulatory tasks are structurally and functionally separated from activities associated with participating in or controlling a postal operator; Believes that senior officials of national regulators should not be allowed to work for a public postal operator or other interested parties for at least six months after leaving a national regulator in order to prevent conflicts of interest; takes the view that, to this end, Member States should put in place legislation so that penalties can be imposed in the event of non-compliance with this obligation;

5. Calls on the Commission to facilitate and strengthen cooperation and coordination between national regulatory authorities in order to ensure greater efficiency and interoperability in cross-border delivery and to monitor the regulatory activities of national regulatory authorities, including the provision of universal services, to ensure the uniform application of European law and the harmonization of the postal market in the EU;

6. Reiterates that the Postal Services Directive gives the Member States the flexibility they need to take into account local specificities and to ensure the provision of universal services in the long term and in a sustainable manner, while at the same time meeting the needs of users and adapting them to To bring about change in the technical, economic and social environment;

7. Notes that the Commission has confirmed that the Postal Services Directive does not impose a specific ownership structure for universal service providers; takes the view that universal service providers should not be discouraged from investing and innovating in efficient and high quality postal services;

II. Maintain universal services and enable fair competition: access, quality of services and user needs

8. Considers that there is a tendency to narrow the scope of the universal service obligation; calls for consumer choice to be encouraged so that letter delivery can be set within the framework of the universal service obligation; stresses therefore that it is imperative to offer high quality universal services on acceptable terms, which should include at least five delivery days and five collection days per week for each citizen; Notes that some Member States allow a certain degree of flexibility in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of universal services and to take account of national characteristics and specific geographical conditions; recalls that while the directive allows a certain degree of flexibility, this should not be exceeded when establishing national rules;

9. Reiterates that universal services must evolve in accordance with the technical, economic and social environment and in accordance with users' needs and that the Postal Services Directive gives Member States the flexibility they need to take account of local specificities and ensure the long-term sustainability of universal services;

10. Believes that the reach and access to universal parcel services can and must be improved, especially for citizens with disabilities and reduced mobility and for those living in remote areas; Stresses the importance of ensuring barrier-free access to postal services and consistency between the Postal Services Directive and the Accessibility Act;

11. Points out that the provision of universal postal services is becoming increasingly difficult in many Member States as the mail business is declining; Notes that many providers responsible for providing universal services finance them through income from commercial activities such as financial services or parcel delivery, which are not considered universal services;

12. Notes that there are some cases of unfair competition in the postal sector and calls on the competent authority to sanction any wrongdoing;

13. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to monitor the provision of postal services as a public service in order to ensure that public service provision is compensated for in a proportionate, transparent and fair manner;

14. Stresses the importance of universal service obligation prices being affordable and providing access to the services for all users; Recalls that national regulatory authorities must clearly define the affordability of sending letters and that Member States must maintain or introduce free postal services for the blind and visually impaired;

15. Calls on the Member States to maintain territorial and social cohesion and the related quality requirements, and notes that Member States can already adapt some specific characteristics to meet local demand using the flexibility provided for in Directive 97/67 / EC to meet; Notes that the postal networks and services are very important to EU citizens; Calls on the Member States to use State aid instruments in a transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate manner only in exceptional cases, in line with EU competition policy, and to ensure that customers continue to have access to postal services by providing a minimum level of services where necessary the same access point is guaranteed; calls on the Commission to ensure that compensation funds are proportionate and that public procurement procedures are transparent and fair;

16. Calls on the Member States to ensure that the opening of the market continues to benefit all users, in particular consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises, by closely monitoring market developments; suggests further improvements in the speed, choice and reliability of services;

17. Calls on the Commission to improve the existing definition of universal service in order to establish a guaranteed minimum level of services for consumers, to make universal service obligations fit for emerging markets, to take into account market changes in different Member States and to promote economic growth and social cohesion ; stresses, however, that in view of the specific constraints of the individual markets, it makes sense to allow providers a certain degree of flexibility in the design of this universal service; Calls on the Member States to implement licensing procedures in line with the current directive and to further harmonize licensing and / or notification procedures in order to remove unjustified barriers to entry within the internal market without creating unnecessary administrative burdens;

18. Stresses that the introduction of easily accessible and affordable arbitration procedures has an interesting potential in order to achieve a quick and easy solution for both operators and consumers in the event of a dispute; Encourages the Commission to introduce consumer rights legislation in the postal sector;

19. Calls on the Commission to take into account digitization and the possibilities it opens up, the specificities of the Member States and the general direction in which the postal and parcel markets are developing when drawing up legislative proposals.

20. Recalls that VAT exemptions for postal services should be applied in such a way that the distortions of competition between former monopoly companies and new entrants are minimized, while at the same time guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of the universal service obligation so that all operators can continue to provide pan-European postal services; Points out that VAT exemptions granted only to the previous provider for services other than universal services represent a significant obstacle to the development of competition in the market when other service providers are subject to VAT;

21. Calls on the Commission to ensure a level playing field among providers, both in traditional mail and in the rapidly expanding parcel delivery business and between established postal service providers and new entrants; suggests that the Commission should be empowered to assess whether tendering procedures are an unreasonable burden;

22ndCalls on the Member States to take into account that the incumbent postal service providers must not be favored by government support compared to the new entrants, nor be disadvantaged by their public service obligation or contaminated sites;

23. Believes that competition and the market are drivers of innovation and the development of value-added services and calls on the Commission to support industry innovation, taking into account the principle of proportionality and economic justification, in order to provide value-added services such as tracking, delivery and Promote collection points, choice of delivery time, appropriate return procedures, and access to simple redress procedures; Acknowledges the efforts and investments made by postal service providers in this area;

24. Calls on the Commission to closely monitor support for universal service obligations and other legacies of postal service providers under the main state aid rules of the rules on services of general economic interest (2012 Framework for services of general economic interest);

25. Believes that the quality of postal services should be assessed against the standards set out in the directive and that it should meet consumer needs in order to increase interoperability and improve the quality of the service;

26. Points out that European postal operators have invested in modernizing the interconnectivity of their networks and have introduced innovative, user-friendly services for consumers and small and medium-sized online retailers doing cross-border e-commerce; takes the view that these investments should be protected with fair access conditions;

27. Reiterates that it welcomes the forum for users of postal services set up by the Commission in 2011 to facilitate exchanges between users, providers, trade unions and other stakeholders on issues such as end-user satisfaction and the needs of business customers as well to discuss how e-commerce delivery can be improved; is of the opinion that the forum is very useful and should be held regularly in order to find possible solutions to improve mail and parcel delivery services;

III. Cross-border dimension and e-commerce

28.Calls on the Member States to ensure the interoperability and modernization of the postal networks and, in cases where there are several universal service providers, to prevent obstacles to the transport of mail and to give small and medium-sized enterprises access to the financially interesting services for cross-border deliveries by increasing them enable the transparency of the tariffs applied by postal operators;

29. Believes that parcel delivery is a highly competitive, innovative and fast growing industry; Notes that affordable and reliable parcel delivery services are important for the achievement of the digital single market; notes, therefore, that opening up this industry to competition has spurred the development of value-added services such as tracking, drop-off and pick-up points, flexible delivery times and return procedures; therefore believes that new rules for this market must be proportionate and based on sound economic evidence;

30. points out, in this context, that consideration should be given to all the advantages of new technologies such as drones, as they could facilitate delivery, especially in sparsely populated, remote or distant areas, although there are also security aspects and environmental sustainability must be taken into account;

31. Believes that the highly competitive, innovative and rapidly growing parcel market must not be hampered by unjustified regulation and unnecessary bureaucracy;

32. Calls on the Commission to move parcel delivery market surveillance, where appropriate, in a performance-based direction and, without prejudice to the responsibilities of national regulators, to advocate affordable cross-border tariffs and uncover unfair anti-competitive and monopoly practices; calls for tariff transparency and service availability to be increased, especially for retail customers and small and medium-sized enterprises;

33. Welcomes the Commission's proposal for transparent and non-discriminatory cross-border access to all network elements, associated facilities, relevant services and information systems of the postal networks for third parties; Believes that the efficient use of infrastructure could bring economic benefits to universal service providers and increase competition in cross-border delivery;

34. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect more data on the parcel delivery market in order to better assess the development of this industry and its structural development;

35. Stresses the importance of improving the quality of service and the protection of consumer rights in order to rebuild a sufficient level of consumer confidence; Believes that the lack of trust could be addressed through more transparency in prices, delivery options, modalities and quality / fulfillment (timeframe, geographic coverage, delays and handling cases of damaged or lost shipments) and trust labels;

36. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to make the conditions for public pricing and the provision of services (delivery options, last attempt at delivery, reliability) more transparent, particularly with regard to e-commerce; calls for transparency checks to be carried out when prices are not controlled by competition or are disproportionately high; Stresses the importance of narrowing the gap between domestic prices and prices for cross-border services and supports measures to increase consumer awareness and the ability to compare domestic and cross-border price structures; calls on national regulators to assess the affordability of prices on certain cross-border routes and to pay particular attention to excessive deviations;

37. Calls on the Commission to promote the e-commerce and cross-border parcel delivery strategy; suggests promoting interoperability along the supply chain and developing publicly available best practices for e-retail;

38. Stresses the importance of having a simple, effective and cross-border mechanism for complaints procedures and dispute settlement; Emphasizes that the directive on alternative dispute resolution and the online portal set up within the framework of Regulation (EU) No. 524/2013 on the online settlement of consumer disputes can benefit consumers and companies in cross-border transactions; Considers it worrying that to date, although the transposition deadline expired in July 2015, only 24 Member States have transposed the Alternative Dispute Settlement Directive and, as a result, millions of EU citizens have no access to these important legal remedies; Believes that the European Small Claims Procedure for cross-border transactions could be useful for consumers and businesses; calls for further adequate consumer redress mechanisms for postal services to be considered should this be necessary;

39.  

40.Calls on the Commission and the Member States to investigate the extent to which cross-border parcel deliveries are made in accordance with the various rules arising from either international trade agreements (e.g. the rules of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) )) or EU law (e.g. the Union Customs Code), in particular with regard to the universal service obligation, which can be abused and lead to market distortions; calls for the European Union to apply for membership in the Universal Postal Union in order to achieve full integration of the European postal sector;

41. Endorses the principle of collecting statistical data on the parcel delivery market in order to gain better insight into the main players in the market, the structure of competition and the development of the market;

IV. Social dimension: employment promotion

42. Calls on the Member States to guarantee all postal workers good working conditions and the requisite level of health and safety at work, regardless of the size and type of employing company, place of employment or underlying contract; Stresses the importance of health and safety at work, especially in view of demographic change and the high mobility of workers in the postal service sector; welcomes the cooperation between the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA) and the sectoral social partners in the framework of the campaign "Healthy Workplaces - Managing Stress";

43. Notes that the postal services sector has changed significantly in recent years as a result of technological advances and digitization, and that the modernization and diversification of postal services has had a major impact on working conditions and employment;

44. Notes that the liberalization of the postal sector in some Member States has led to significant differences between universal service providers and competing postal operators in terms of working conditions and pay; Considers that increased competition must not lead to illegal social practices or to worsening working conditions;

45. Notes that if postal operators take advantage of the opportunity to develop and expand their production in innovative ways, particularly in peripheral regions, this would also have a positive impact on employment.

46.    

47. Welcomes the important role played by the trade unions, which in many Member States are working with universal service providers to address changes in the postal service sector in a socially responsible manner; Stresses the importance of strong, independent social partners in the postal sector, institutionalized social dialogue and the involvement of employees in company matters;

48. Stresses the importance of monitoring compliance with mandatory driving and rest times and working hours in the postal sector; Considers that compliance should be monitored using digital control devices installed in vehicles; Recalls that Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 on road tachographs does not apply to vehicles under 3.5 tonnes; for this reason calls for checks on working hours and rest times to be stepped up; reiterates that all tasks related to the activity of a worker should be considered as working time; Stresses also the importance of monitoring compliance with European and national legislation on health and safety at work, including conditions in vehicles, for all those involved in mail deliveries, regardless of their employment status as self-employed, subcontractors, temporary workers or contract workers;

49. Considers it essential to strike a balance between free competition, consumer needs, an economically viable and well-functioning universal service and the preservation of jobs;

50. Is concerned about attempts to circumvent existing minimum wage regulations by increasing the workload to such an extent that it cannot be done in the paid working hours;

51. welcomes the important work of the social dialogue committee in the postal sector and draws attention to the European social partners' project "Managing demographic challenges and finding sustainable solutions by the social partners in the postal sector" the social partners in the postal sector);

52. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect more data on employment figures and conditions in the postal service sector in order to better assess the real situation after the full opening of the markets and to be able to react efficiently to developments and possible problems; Calls on the Commission and the Member States to closely monitor new means of automatic mail delivery and its impact on employment conditions and numbers and, if necessary, assess the need to modernize social and labor legislation in order to keep pace with changes in the postal sector; calls on the social partners to also update collective agreements, if necessary, in order to ensure high labor and employment standards;

53. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.

(1)

OJ L 15, 21.1.1998, p. 14.

(2)

OJ C 217, 11.8.2010, p. 7.

(3)

OJ L 165 of 18.6.2013, p. 63.

(4)

OJ L 165 of 18.6.2013, p. 1.

(5)

OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 64.

(6)

OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.

(7)

Texts adopted, P7_TA (2014) 0067.

(8)

Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016) 0009.