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The Role of the Postal and Delivery Sector in a Digital Age

The Role of the Postal and Delivery Sector in a Digital Age

Advances in Regulatory Economics series

Edited by Michael A. Crew and Timothy J. J. Brennan

This volume, the result of the 21st Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics (Ireland, 2013), describes the continuing problem of the decline of the postal sector in the face of electronic competition and offers strategies for the survival of mail services in a digital age.

Chapter 10: Re-regulation for parcel delivery in the e-commerce context?

Joost Vantomme

Subjects: economics and finance, competition policy, public sector economics


Postal operators are more than ever confronted with the challenge of keeping their business sustainable in a declining traditional mail market. As a result, further cost-efficiency initiatives, combined with the diversification of the services portfolio are critically important. Against the background of digital commerce, e-commerce has led to growth in the demand for parcel delivery that runs counter to the Internet-driven decline in demand for sending letters. As the European internal market for goods and services has always been one of the cornerstones in the construction of the European Union, recent European policy initiatives in the area of cross-border e-commerce have been adopted or are underway. These aim at facilitating trust and confidence in the wave of e-transactions, combined with the last-mile physical delivery of parcels. One of the policy questions is the relevance and effectiveness of the current regulatory environment for (cross-border) parcel delivery and the need for additional regulation. Cross-border delivery is predominantly regulated through the requirements related to the universal service. These requirements may differ from country to country, but the designation of a default operator for delivery of parcels is not put into question. The postal directive regulates this and the member states have implemented it by their own legislative frameworks. This chapter has its primary focus on these regulatory aspects. Section 2 contains a policy overview at the European level with a focus on delivery of parcels.

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