The European Parliament Transport Committee (TRAN) adopted a report on the proposed directive on liberalising postal services yesterday evening. The Greens/EFA group opposes the compromise (1) adopted, which would create uncertainty about the financing of the universal provision of postal services and have a negative impact on employment conditions in the sector. Following the vote, UK Green MEP Jean Lambert said:
“The report adopted by the TRAN Committee leaves a number of areas of concern, notably with regard to the financing of the universal provision of postal services. Uncertainty as to how the universal service will be financed means it is ultimately Member States that will have to foot the
bill, thereby unfairly subsidising postal service operators (2).
“We are also concerned that the employment and social conditions of those currently employed in the postal services sector will be threatened by the liberalisation as set out in the directive. New market entrants with lower employment standards would have an unfair competitive advantage over the incumbent service provider, which would put the incumbent under pressure to lower its standards (2).
“The lack of clarity in the report adopted tonight is best demonstrated by a surreal amendment on a transitory derogation to market opening that was approved. Under the text, Member States with ‘particularly difficult topography, especially a huge number of Islands’ will be given longer time to implement the directive (3). This bizarre and vague text epitomises the uncertainties in the draft adopted last night.”
(1) The Transport Committee adopted a package of compromise amendments, which had been agreed between the EPP, Socialist and ALDE groups. These amendments dealt, among other issues, with the financing of the universal provision of services and the employment and social conditions of workers in the sector.
(2) Despite an attempt to set out some guidelines with regard to the financing of the provision of a universal postal service and employment conditions, this is not an area of competence for the European Union, so such guidelines cannot act as a legal guarantee.
(3) New Member States and Member States falling under this vague description will have until an extended derogation until 31 December 2012 to implement the directive.