ACM recommends improving the protection of consumers and business customers in new Postal Act
In a letter to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK), the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) expressed its concerns about the bill containing amendments to the Dutch Postal Act. In the letter, ACM recommends changing several elements of the current bill so that consumers, business customers and postal operators are better protected against unreasonable tariffs and conditions now that Dutch postal operator PostNL has become a monopolist on the Dutch postal delivery market following its acquisition of its former rival Sandd.
One concern is that the bill offers consumers and business end-users insufficient protection against unreasonable tariffs. In order to keep the postal delivery service affordable, ACM argues that it is appropriate to introduce tariff regulation for the entire range of services in the Dutch postal network, rather than only for a part thereof (the universal service obligation), which is currently the case.
Positions of other postal operators
Another concern is that the bill offers insufficient protection to the positions of other postal operators that are forced to use PostNL’s network. In the bill, the achievement of economies of scale in the universal service obligation is placed above the need for competitive pressure exerted by other postal operators. ACM believes there should be sufficient room for other postal operators to be able to compete with PostNL. The volume reduction of mail offered by other postal operators, proposed in the bill, impedes that ability to compete.
A third concern is the lack of periodical oversight over the cost allocation system that is necessary for determining what are reasonable tariffs. Without such periodical oversight, ACM has too little ability to keep a close watch on the costs and how they are allocated.
Supplement to previous feasibility and enforceability test of Dutch Postal Act
These recommendations are a supplement to ACM’s feasibility and enforceability test of 17 June 2019 to assess whether the proposed changes to the bill can be implemented and enforced. After the 2019 test, PostNL acquired its rival Sandd. That acquisition changed the market dynamics. That is reason for ACM to supplement the previous test, and to explain the newly emerged concerns. Several key issues in the Dutch Postal Act will be fleshed out in more specific regulations at a later point in time. As soon as those become available, ACM will perform an enforceability and feasibility test on them as well.
ACM expects the current supplement to be included in the legislative process of the bill, and has indicated that it is prepared to play a role in that process.
20-04-2020 Feasibility and enforceability test of draft amendments to the Dutch Postal Act (in Dutch)