The new Postal Directive, which amends Directive 97/67/EC (already amended in 2002 by Directive 2002/39/EC) with regard to the full accomplishment of the internal market of Community postal services was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) on 27 February.
This new Directive entered into force following a political consensus, reached during the Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council, on the creation of a regulatory framework for European postal services, representing the final step in a drawn out process of European postal market reform.
The Directive sets out that the market be totally opened up no later than 31 December 2010, while allowing for the possibility that some EU Member States may extend this deadline for a maximum of a further two years or until 31 December 2012; this allowance give countries that find themselves behind in the liberalisation process some extra time to complete this process.
The Directive preserves the key elements of the initial proposal put forward by the European Commission (EC), in particular, the abolition of the reserved area, the scope, criteria and financing of the universal service, strengthening consumer rights and a promotion of the role of national regulatory authorities.
The EC will provide Member States with all the support necessary for the implementation of the directive and will continue to take an active role in the development of the market, in order to guarantee a quality of service that meets the expectations of all parties.