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EU to Open Postal Market by 2009
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The European Commission (EC), the executive agency of the European Union (EU), has put forward a proposal to open EU postal markets fully to competition by 2009, the EC announced on Wednesday.

Full market opening means that national operators within the EU will no longer have a monopoly on mail below a certain weight (currently a maximum of 50 grams), known as the "reserved area".

According to an EC press release, EU member states will be allowed a flexible choice of means to finance universal service provision or the possibility to share out the universal service obligation between operators.

"With full market opening in 2009, we can look forward to more innovation, better services and improved cost-efficiency," EU Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy was quoted as saying by the press release.

"I firmly believe that completing the Internal Market for postal services is vital for securing further improvements and for sustaining the progress and results achieved to date," he added.

The proposal maintains the current obligations on EU member states to ensure a high-quality universal service comprising at least one delivery and collection five days a week for every EU citizen.

Currently the 1997 Postal Directive covers the postal services in the EU. This created a regulatory framework, which guarantees EU citizens, a universal service, while gradually limiting the scope of the reserved area (initially mail under 350 grams, amended in 2002 to 100 grams and reduced in 2006 to 50 grams).

As a matter of fact, a number of EU member states have already opened up their market to full competition or have firm plans to do so before the 2009 target date.

(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2006)

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