The postal market battle continues escalating!
Warsaw, 10 October 2012
The postal market battle continues escalating!
Polish postal sector on the eve of market liberalization
The preparations to implement the most important phase of the postal sector liberalization onto the European market are currently in the final stages. Poland, as one of ten monopoly bastions has benefited from the transitional period, that delayed the access of the independent operators to equal conditions of competition in the market. The biggest barrier to sustainable development of the postal sector in Poland proved to be tedious legislative process of the “Postal Act”, that remanded for further proceedings by the Sejm [Parliament] on October 8th, 2012. Fight for demonopolization has not ceased yet. Nevertheless, on the January 1st 2013, after the “liberation” of the shipments up to 50g segment, the Polish postal market liberalization becomes a fact.
Polish postal market is valued at PLN 6 billion. The area that has been reserved for the Polish Post [Poczta Polska] so far, i.e. shipments not exceeding 50g, represents 75% of the entire market, and generates about 50% of the postal sector revenues. Therefore, the struggle for the market shares in this sector is justified.
"The rules governing the conduct of postal activity in Poland were a huge barrier to the functioning of independent service providers, therefore 2013 will undoubtedly be a turning point. The liberalization of the postal market will increase the number of operators, including foreign companies, although we assume the several-year perspective until they are able to deliver the correspondence on similar conditions. That will also improve cost competitiveness and service quality. It is common knowledge that the state monopoly on mail delivery was not beneficial to the customers "- says Rafał Brzoska, CEO of InPost, and a member of OZPNOP [The National Postal Operators Association].
The postal industry is not the only one that is looking forward to 2013 and the full liberalization of the market in accordance with Community legislation. The liberalization of the postal sector is also a positive signal for change for customers, announcing an increase of competitiveness, offering more attractive services by alternative operators and, above all, lowering the prices for postal services. Operational and financial benefits will be felt for companies that send large numbers of letters immediately after the postal market is liberalization. This will result from two factors: the reduction of the correspondence preparation process and the elimination of the need of the separate packaging and sorting of letters weighing less than 50 grams. Mass production of correspondence is a complex process, therefore the faster production time, the shorter deadlines of receivables collection, orders and tenders. Also, individual customers may expect lower prices due to increased competition in the postal market.
Mr Rafał Brzoska adds, “We’ll do anything to make the Polish postal market similar to European standards and quality. We also believe the incumbent does not guarantee the above to the Polish citizens. our industry, like any other, may only grow in a competitive market. That’s what we’re fighting for”.
The recent years have shown that independent postal companies turned out to be a real competition for the national operator and had a significant impact on the shape and quality of the postal market. However, the activities of the authorities and the functioning of the Polish Post reveals that private operators’ fight for sustainable development of the postal sector in Poland will not end up with the liberalization.
Wieslaw Klimaszewski, President OZPNOP [The National Postal Operators Association] about the changes that will take place January 1, 2013; "The existing legislation - requiring much more stringent criteria from private operators than it is in the case of the Polish Post [Poczta Polska], has openly showed the system advantage of the national operator. Despite the amendments made to Postal Law Act, several issues still remain inconsistent with the doctrine of Community law. The provisions relating to the definition of mass sender, the Polish Post monopoly for the postal money orders, letter postage proofs at the Polish Post offices with the power of an official document or the conditions of the alternative operators’ access to the infrastructure of the designed operator, do not have neither formal nor practical justification in the light of EU directives. That is why we will continue to actively 'fight' for new regulations that allow to adjust Polish regulations to European standards and thus for a sustainable development of the postal sector in Poland. The guarantor of quality change of the market may only be another constructive amendment to the regulations under which the Polish Post - after the liberalization of the market - will lose its privileged position in relation to other postal operators".
OZPNOP strategy is also sustained by Rafał Brzoska; "Unclear, poorly worded and poorly interpreted legislation will not only lead to further difficulties for companies acting in the postal industry, but once again will become a barrier to national economic growth. The costs incurred by the state budget - generated in relation to maintain the privileged position of the Polish Post, weaken the financial condition of the country and undermine the image of Poland internationally. Moreover, the liberalization of the market has to be a tribute to customers, who should be granted the right to free choice of service provider. That's why we do anything to give them access to alternative postal services on the same terms as those offered by the Polish Post".
Key development barriers in light of the amendment to the law:
• Negligence when preparing new Postal Law Act, which in turn may lead to the adoption of poor regulations, impeding the development of the postal market and freedom of competition
• Regulations supporting the privileged position of the Polish Post:
o the national operator monopoly for postal money orders
o Incorrectly formulated a definition of mass sender, including unjustified public assistance in the form of VAT exemption for the contractual services for Poczta Polska
o The privileged position of the operator designated under the definition of 'mass sender' and the controversial issue of VAT for the contractual services
o Postage proof of the registered shipment sent at the Polish Post office with the status of an official document considered to be an unjustified privilege of the national operator
o Limited access of the alternative operators to the postal infrastructure of the designated operator
Wieslaw Klimaszewski, President of the OZPNOP ensures; "The main task of the Association of independent postal operators is to fight in order to provide fair conditions for private companies. Our main aim is to legitimize equal status of operators acting in the postal industry. There is still much to be done in this matter, therefore the struggle for Polish postal market has been started long before the planned liberalization, assuming that by that time internal procedures and regulations will be standardized, and consistent with the doctrine of European legislation”.
The National Private Postal Operators Association [OZPNOP] was formed in July 2012 by private postal companies. Since January 2012, the Association is a member of PKPP Lewiatan [Polish Confederation of Private Employers Lewiatan]. Its statutory tasks include in particular:
• supporting initiatives of the legal and conceptual character, aimed at building a sustainable, competitive and strong postal market
• cooperation with market regulators and policy makers in developing regulations on behalf of the independent postal operators and customers
• setting up and monitoring high standards of services offered by independent postal operators affiliated with the Association