Problems and Progress
Edited by Colin Robinson
5. The end to the postal exception? Dermot Glynn and David Stubbs INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW With the recent proposal of the European Commission to move towards full postal liberalisation by 2009, this is a good time to reﬂect on the development of postal regulation in Europe and the UK. This chapter’s main conclusion will be that, on balance, the postal sector in the European Union (EU) has in the past suﬀered from delay in the pace of reform, and regulators and policy makers should support moves to end the ‘postal exception’, by which is meant the delay in postal reform compared to other network-based industries. To set the scene we begin with a brief history of European and UK postal regulatory development to understand the nature and evolution of the postal exception. We shall then brieﬂy review European postal market development and emerging market trends in the sector. We shall conclude by oﬀering some recommendations about how deregulation may best be eﬀected in the sector, suggesting that the universal service obligation could be reduced in scope, opening the way to a regulatory regime focused on ensuring reasonable access by entrants to essential services and eventually to removing retail price controls. One caveat to note at the outset: good comparative data on the sector are diﬃcult to ﬁnd and while we have endeavoured to use the best available research there remain deﬁciencies in establishing a precise comparable view of market and regulatory development. In...
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