Going postal

I have such a thing for postal economics.

EU delaying opening up of competition in Europe’s postal sector

European Union governments on Monday pushed back the full opening up of competition in Europe’s €88 billion postal sector by two years, until 2011, in the face of strong pressure from some national postal monopolies.

Although resistance was led by countries nervous about foreign competitors poised to swoop in, EU officials rejected suggestions that nationalist politics were at play in the $125 billion market.

Well, yes. They would.

This is, of course (and as I painfully revisit) while Britain’s Royal Mail lost its monopoly, lost it early, lost more customers than we could count, faster than we could count them anyway, and now faces the likes of TNT.

So … Britain’s reaction?

The commission, backed by Britain and Germany, has said that it was unfair that some countries had fully opened competition while others had done nothing. It has demanded that all EU nations open up their postal services and put independent regulators in charge.

So far Sweden, Britain and Finland are the only EU countries to have scrapped their postal monopolies completely. Plans are under way do so in Germany and the Netherlands by January. In Germany, new competitors have already emerged to challenge Deutsche Post in certain areas, giving them ready-made networks when full competition takes effect.

British officials welcomed the proposal, saying that the opening up of the British postal sector in January 2006 had vastly improved the performance of Royal Mail, the national postal operator.

Given this whole agenda was apparently laid out some 15 years ago, it is taking on positively NAFTA-esque dimensions (Eco 1 students will recognise that as a reference to Mexican sugar).

Finally, the International Herald Tribune was also kind enough to bring this to our delighted attention:

“This does not signal a victory for the forces of protectionism in Europe,” said Oliver Drewes, a spokesman for Charlie McCreevy, the EU’s internal market commissioner. “This will enhance competition.”

Brussels. The gift that keeps on giving (go read about Boris Johnson’s poor daughter, some time).

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