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European Community policy and objectives for postal services have been implemented in Community law through a framework Postal Directive which established a complete regulatory framework for European postal services. The overall objective is the implementation of the single market for postal services, by opening up the sector to competition in a gradual and controlled way, within a regulatory framework which assures a high quality and affordable universal service.
This Directive (which implemented the first steps towards a harmonised approach to postal services) was transposed in the UK by the Postal Services Regulations 1999, which were superseded by the Postal Services Act 2000. It set the scope of services that could be reserved and provided common rules on the provision of a universal service, quality of service standards and the creation of national regulatory authorities.
This Directive amended the earlier Directive with regard to introducing phased development of competition in Community postal services and it also reduced the threshold for reserved services. This was transposed in the UK via the Postal Services (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, which were made after Postcomm had consulted on how best to implement provisions of the Directive and then submitted its advice to the Secretary of State.
In October 2006 the European Commission published proposals for full market opening of postal services across the EU. Following negotiations with both the European Council and Parliament, a common position was reached in November 2007 between the Commission and the Council. This provided for full market opening by the end of 2010, with a derogation of a further two years allowed for the 2004 and 2007 Accession States, together with Greece and Luxembourg.
Amending the earlier Directives, as the final step towards market opening, this requires full market opening be accomplished by 31 December 2010 for the majority of Member States, with the possibility for some States to extend this by 2 years with a temporary reciprocity applying in such cases. The Department will shortly be launching a consultation exercise on implementation of this Directive in the UK.