Advances in Regulatory Economics series
Edited by Michael A. Crew, Paul R. Kleindofer and James I. Campbell Jr
Chapter 2: Interactions between Regulatory and Antitrust Policies in a Liberalized Postal Sector
John C. Panzar† 1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY Liberalization has brought many changes to the postal sector. In the European Union (EU) and elsewhere, recent decades have seen the ‘corporatization’ of postal operators. Posts have been transformed from ministries or government departments into more commercial enterprises. While privatization has been relatively rare, posts are typically subject to economic regulation by an independent regulator. The ‘full market opening’ of the postal sector (scheduled for most countries in the EU for 2011) will likely bring with it additional scrutiny from competition authorities. In the US, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) subjects the United States Postal Service (USPS) to antitrust scrutiny for the ﬁrst time in its history. The liberalization experience of other vertically integrated network industries such as telecommunications and electric power have illustrated that the issues facing postal regulators and competition authorities are likely to be closely linked. Historically, the postal sector was largely insulated from both regulatory and antitrust control. Not only was the post a state-owned enterprise (SOE), in most countries it was also an integral part of the government. For example, in the United States, the Postmaster General was a cabinet-level position, while in many European countries the post was part of a government ministry: for example, the ‘Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications’. Under these circumstances, there was little if any room for regulatory or competition policy to operate: ‘postal policy’ was government policy. This situation changed dramatically in the US with the Postal Reorganization...
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