The sessions of the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the Council of Administration (CA) of the UPU, which began with the World Round Table on Terminal Charges on 21-22 January, were held in Berne from last 21 January to 8 February.
With respect to the POC, highlights included the joint meeting of its Development Co-operation Action Group (DCAG) and Postal Development Action Group (PDAG), which conceived the UPU’s draft co-operation policy for the 2009/2012 cycle, approved in plenary session. The POC plenary meeting also saw presentation of activity reports from the POC, the Consultative Committee (CC), the Management Committee, Fiduciary Council for the Quality of Service Fund and Postal Security Action Group (PSAG). Also the Union’s postal strategy was discussed vis-à-vis the “status of implementation of the Bucharest Strategy” and “planning of the Nairobi Postal Strategy to implement in the next cycle”, which is, however, material within the CA’s decision-making sphere. Financial matters (namely evaluation of the 2007/2008 budget and activities of the Postal Financial Services project group (PG)) were also considered at the POC plenary meeting, along with analysis of the work conducted in the POC committees: Committee 1 on Standards and Procedures (chaired by Portugal through Isabel Tavares of the CTT), Committee 2 on Terminal Dues, Committee 3 on Operational Issues and Committee 4 on Markets.
Lastly, the proposal to reorganise the two councils for the next cycle (2009/2012) conceived by the International Bureau (IB) was presented to the POC. Among other aspects, it envisages the creation of a joint CA/POC committee to set UPU strategy and simplify the POC’s organisation chart by eliminating various project groups. Regarding this proposal, it must be stressed that some POC delegations considered that, as with the joint committee planned for Strategy questions, the joint committee model should also be adopted for Co-operation, which they hold that at last consideration is implemented by the operators.
Under the CA, the project groups on Acts of the Union and Structure and Constituency of the Union (PG SCU) also met. Regarding the Acts of the Union PG, the following were endorsed for the CA plenary meeting: a document from the IB with the framing and status of the process of modifying the UPU statutes with respect to replacement of the term ‘postal administration’ by the terms ‘member country’ or ‘designated operator’; a proposed resolution with a view to renewing this PG’s mandate after the 24th Congress; a proposed resolution to clarify definition of the term ‘member country’; and a proposed amendment of the Convention and Agreement on Postal Payment Services, with a view to harmonising the concepts used therein.
As for PG SCU, the proposed text of a new General Regulation article was completed, which compiles all the dispositions that are currently spread among various Acts and regarding the Congress’s functions and tasks. Also, a proposed resolution envisaging renewal of the PG’s mandate beyond the 24th Congress was discussed and finalised. The PG also discussed and endorsed for the CA a proposal to amend the preamble to the Constitution (which ended up being approved in plenary session, subject to editorial changes) and a document on consolidation of the role and contribution of the CC. PG SCU, which is the forum originating questions concerning the UPU’s organisation and structure, also presented and debated a proposal to set up under the CA’s tutelage the aforementioned CA/POC joint committee charged with defining the UPU’s strategy. The discussion concluded that there was support for the idea of reworking and simplifying the UPU’s structures, although there were subsequent practical concerns involving implementation of the proposed organisation chart.
Besides the issues endorsed by these two PGs, the CA saw presentation of the activity reports from the Management Committee, POC, CC, IB, PSAG and PDAG/DCAG. As in the POC plenary session, the implementation status of the Bucharest Strategy was presented, along with planning of the Nairobi Postal Strategy to implement in the next cycle, which, being in the CA’s decision-making sphere, were here approved and endorsed for the Congress.
Lastly, note that the CA discussed pending issues (from the November 2007 CA session) from its three Committees that did not meet at this POC session. The debate raised by the POC members was resumed, on the possibility of making the CA’s future Committee 2 (on co-operation) a CA/POC joint committee, as occurs for strategic planning issues. The IB then had occasion to explain that the organisation charts’ design is only meant to define general responsibilities; details about the level of POC participation can be worked out later. Also approved, for Committee 1 (UPU Reform), was the proposed resolution on continuation of the PG SCU mandate, including contributions from PostEurop, which had prepared a proposal with the same purpose. Regarding Committee 2 (Regulatory Issues), the plenary session approved the document on the process of replacing the term ‘postal administration’ in the UPU Acts, and also approved the version meanwhile published by the IB of the document on Extraterritorial Offices of Exchange (ETEOs) and International Mail Processing Centres (IMPCs), which had been presented at the 2007 CA session. As for Committee 3 (Finance), the CA plenary session approved documents on: activities that imply extra-budget spending; the UPU accounts and status of the cost accounting programme (subject to editing by the IB); mid-term evaluation of the 2007/2008 budget; and the report on financing EMS activities.
The session was also marked by issues concerning preparations for the 24th UPU Congress, the organisation’s top body, which was scheduled for this August in Nairobi, Kenya. Due to the current situation of violence and major social and political upheaval in that country, the UPU has begun negotiating with Kenya to move the Congress to neutral territory. As Kenya has not withdrawn the invitation, the CA members approved a resolution determining that the Congress will be held in Geneva from 23 July to 12 August 2008, and that Kenya will nevertheless benefit from the status of host country and thus continue to head the CA in the next cycle. According to this resolution, Kenya will also have the chance to host the mid-cycle Strategy Conference to be held in 2010.
The POC and CA constitutive meetings are scheduled for 11 August 2008, immediately before the Congress closing session. The exact dates of the first sessions of the new Councils (which will function during the 2009/2012 cycle) will be determined later; for the time being they are planned for November 2008.