Edited by Michael A. Crew and Paul R. Kleindorfer
Chapter 12: The Confluence of the Postal Sector with the Internet Economy and Regulation
* John Hearn† 27 1 OBJECTIVES OF THE CURRENT EUROPEAN REGULATORY FRAMEWORK The objective of this chapter is to identify how sector-specific regulation in the European Union (EU) might need to evolve in response to the confluence of the postal sector with the Internet economy. This section sets out the objectives of the current (2011) European regulatory framework. Section 2 examines market trends and considers how European postal markets might evolve over the coming years. Section 3 considers how regulatory frameworks might need to evolve to reflect these changes. Conclusions are set out in Section 4. Postal services are a service of general economic interest. As an essential instrument for communication and information exchange they fulfill a vital role which contributes to the objectives of social, economic and territorial cohesion in the EU. In addition, there are specific features of the traditional postal service offered by state-owned or -controlled enterprises, which necessitate special provisions in order to protect the public interest. Specifically enterprises providing such postal services act as agents for both the sender and the addressee. In common law countries such as Britain and Ireland ‘the post office becomes irrevocably the agent of the addressee’ immediately upon the posting of a postal packet and the sender of a postal packet has no right to reclaim it after it has been posted. However, even in jurisdictions where ownership remains with the sender until delivery1 or where it is permissible to withdraw a letter from the post or have its address altered...
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