Postal service statistics - universal service providers

From Statistics Explained

Data from June 2011, most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Database.

This article takes a look at the European Union (EU) postal statistics from 2004 to 2009 covering the universal service providers (USP), the companies operating under the 'Universal service obligation'.

Eurostat restarted the collection of data on postal services in 2005. The main priority of EU policies on postal services is to complete the internal market and ensure efficient, reliable and good-quality service at affordable prices for citizens and enterprises. Key elements of these policies are: gradual opening of the market to competition, guaranteed access to the universal postal service, cost transparency, reduction of the postal reserved areas, setting common quality standards of services, harmonisation of technical standards and creating conditions for rapid technological progress.

Table 1: Selected indicators of the European postal market 2004-2009 (see Data sources, notes concerning the figures and tables)
Table 2: Selected indicators of the European postal market (continued), 2004-2009
Table 3: Indicators of the European postal market, 2004-2009
Figure 1: Total turnover from the domestic postal sector as % of GDP (2004,2009)
Figure 2: Total number of persons employed in the domestic postal sector as % of the total employment
Figure 3: Number of people served by one post office (including postal agencies, postal outlets, as well as mobile post offices) (2004, 2009)
Table 4: Access points 2009
Figure 4: Number of letter-post items sent per capita (2004, 2009)
Figure 5: Number of letter-post items (in 1000) distributed per person employed (2004, 2009
Figure 6: Ordinary letters and postcards as % of the total letter-post services (2004, 2009)
Figure 7: Reserved area as % of the total letter-post services (2004, 2009)
Figure 8: Percentage of priority letters delivered on-time according to national performance indicators (domestic services) (2004, 2009)
Figure 9: List price (EUR) for a standard (1st class) letter weighing less than 20 g (universal service) for domestic services (2004, 2009)
Figure 10: List price (EUR) for a standard (1st class) letter weighing less than 20 g (universal service) for intra-EU services (2004, 2009)
Figure 11: List price for a standard (1st class) letter weighing less than 20 g (universal service) for domestic services based on Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) (2004, 2009)
Figure 12: List price for a standard (1st class) letter weighing less than 20 g (universal service) for intra-EU services based on Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) (2004, 2009)

Main statistical findings

Highlights:

Domestic postal turnover

Domestic postal turnover growing slower than the GDP

Austria had in 2009 the highest turnover from domestic postal sector in relation GDP (0.9 %), being followed by Sweden, Denmark and Belgium, all with turnover percentages in GDP above 0.6 %. At the other end of the scale is Bulgaria, with a turnover ratio to GDP of only around 0.1 %. Although domestic postal turnover in absolute terms (expressed in current prices) has generally increased compared to 2004, its ratio to GDP fell in most countries. The ratio of domestic postal turnover to GDP fell most compared to 2004 in Sweden and Estonia.

Postal employment

Share of postal employment decreasing

The postal sector accounted in 2009 for 0.5 % of total EU-27 employment. France had in 2009 the highest share of postal employment in total (1 %), being followed by Finland and Hungary, with shares of 0.9 % and 0.8 %, respectively. Lowest shares (below 0.3%) were registered in Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal. Compared to 2004, postal employment in absolute terms decreased in the majority of countries, with its share in total employment following the same pattern. The countries where the shares fell most compared to 2004 were France, Austria and Sweden.

The average productivity measured in terms of turnover per person employed varies significantly among countries, ranging in 2009 from EUR 3500 in Bulgaria to EUR 113000 in Austria.

Network access

Network access varies considerable across countries

Postal items may be deposited by customers for processing in postal services in different physical facilities. These access points include post offices, agencies and outlets, mobile post offices, letter boxes, post office boxes and places at which only stamps can be bought. More than 100 000 post offices (including full-service post offices, agencies, outlets, as well as mobile post offices) served the EU citizens needs in 2009.

Number of people served by one post office is an indicator for the access to network and it is calculated as the population divided to the number of post offices. In 2009, each post office served on average 3 600 inhabitants in the EU-27. Network access was highest in Cyprus and the Czech Republic, with one post office serving less than 1 000 inhabitants, whereas in the Netherlands, Belgium and Greece one post office served more than 7 000 inhabitants. Compared to 2004, the network access significantly improved in Malta, Sweden and Hungary, whereas Latvia and Estonia showed the highest growth in the number of people served by one post office.

In 2009, there were 518 000 letter boxes spread across the EU, corresponding in average to one per 715 inhabitants.

Number of letter-post items

Number of letter-post items sent per capita declining in most countries

In 2009, Spain and the Netherlands handled the highest number of letter-post items (for Germany,France, Italy and the United Kingdom no data were available). Nevertheless, compared to 2004 the number of letter-post items dropped in both these countries by 7 % and 16 %, respectively. Postal traffic declined by more than 20 % in 2009 compared to 2004 in Bulgaria, Denmark and Malta.

The analysis of postal traffic in relation to the population data shows that the highest number of letter-post items sent per capita in 2009 was recorded in Finland (375) and Luxembourg (373), followed by the Netherlands and Sweden, each with more than 200 items distributed per capita. In contrast, eleven EU Member States distributed less than 100 letter-post items per capita, with five of them – Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania - sending below 50.

The number of letter-post items handled per capita declined in most countries compared to 2004, while in Cyprus 20% more items per capita were sent in 2009.

With 120 000 letter-post items distributed per person employed in 2009, Luxembourg maintained its first position as in 2004 and it is followed by Finland, Portugal and the Netherlands, each with more than 80 000. On the other hand, Bulgaria showed the lowest number in both years (7 000 in 2009 and 9000 in 2004).

Almost all letter-post items sent in Cyprus and Ireland in 2009 were ordinary letters and postcards (more than 90 %), whereas in Estonia, Lithuania, Malta and Finland this share was below 50 %. Compared to 2004, the share of ordinary letters and postcards in the total letter-post items fell significantly in Bulgaria and Poland. The most important rise was observed for Romania and Slovakia.

Reserved area refers to services for which the USPs enjoy exclusive rights to operate. The scope of the reserved area is defined in terms of deliveries within specific weight/price limits. All mail that falls outside the area reserved to USP may be handled by any other postal business operating in the market.

To illustrate the magnitude of the reserved area by country, the share of letters delivered in the reserved area as a share of all letters delivered by the USP is presented. These data give and indication on the share of the USP monopoly over a certain part of the postal market. As national definitions for the reserved area vary, comparison between countries is limited. Mail deliveries in the reserved area ranged from 29 % of letter-post services in Malta up to 92 % in Hungary.

On-time delivery of priority letters

High rate of on-time delivery of priority letters

On-time delivery of priority letters is a quality indicator of postal service showing the share of letters delivered within the time limits defined by the national performance indicators in the total of all letters sent. Due to variations in national performance standards (ranging from 1 to 3 working days elapsing between the date of deposit and the date of delivery to the addressee), size of the country, population density, etc., the quality of service data is not directly comparable across all countries. The share of priority letters delivered on time according to national performance indicators in 2009 was for the majority of countries above 90 % or close to it.

Prices for posting a standard letter

Large differences between the prices for posting a standard letter (domestic and intra-EU services)

In order to compare the prices for posting a standard letter for domestic and intra-EU services across countries, the prices collected in national currency have been converted into euro using the annual average exchange rate.

Prices paid in 2009 by customers sending standard letters to national destinations via mail varied considerably across the EU, by a factor of 4. Malta and Romania offered the lowest national prices at EUR 0.19 and EUR 0.24 per item. The highest prices were observed in Finland (EUR 0.80) and Denmark (EUR 0.74).

For intra-EU cross-border traffic the highest prices were found in Sweden (EUR 1.13) and Denmark (EUR 1.07), about 3 times the tariff applied in Malta (EUR 0.37). Posting a domestic standard letter was in 2009 as expensive as an intra-EU letter in Finland, while intra-EU prices were about twice as high as domestic ones in Hungary, Romania and Sweden.

To adjust the prices to the purchasing power in each country the purchasing power parities for the individual consumption of households have been used. The data actually show the price to pay for posting a standard letter (domestic and intra-EU services) within each country in comparison to the general price level of the country.

Relative to the general price level, posting domestic letters was most expensive in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Poland and least expensive in Malta, Spain and Slovenia. Intra-EU services were most expensive in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary and cheapest in Malta.

Data sources and availability

Eurostat restarted collecting data on postal services in 2005. The National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) are Eurostat's partners in the data collection. The definitions of variables were discussed and agreed in cooperation with the European Postal Regulators in a project group ("Assistance and development of EU statistics") of the European Committee for Postal Regulation (CERP).

The data presented here cover the companies operating under the Universal Service obligation (universal service providers - USP). "Universal service" refers here to the set of general interest demands to which services such as the mail should be subject throughout the Community. The aim is to ensure that all users have access to quality services at an affordable price.

All variables used in this article were collected in the context of the "EU Postal Survey" of Eurostat, on the basis of annual questionnaires covering the USPs in the participating countries. Participating countries are the 27 EU Member States, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland and Norway. The data was provided by the National Regulatory Agency of each country.

  • c = confidential data;
  • u = uncertain data

Notes concerning figures and tables

See list of country codes.

Figures in italic are estimates provided by the countries.

Table 1

  • Turnover from domestic postal sector: 2009 data for DE refer to the leading market player.
  • GDP: Gross domestic product at market prices.
  • Employment in the domestic postal sector: data for DK are reported up to 2008 in head count, from 2009 in full-time equivalents; 2009 data for DE refer to the leading market player; data for EE included up to 2007 all employed persons (i.e., also persons employed in other activities such as financial services), from 2008 data refer only to persons employed in postal and postal related services.
  • Total employment: domestic concept, ESA95.
  • Post offices: 2009 data for DE refer to the leading market player.
  • Population: for each reference year, the population data on 1 January of the next year has been used.

Table 2

  • Turnover, employment and post offices: see note Table 1.

Table 3

  • Ordinary letters and postcards: including direct mail for DK, CY, LV and SE; 2009 data for DE refer to the leading market player; data for MT up to 2008 include direct mail; including registered mail and insured mail for FI.
  • On-time delivery: the standard measured is D+1 (day plus one), with the following exceptions: ES D+3, RO D+2 for 2006 and 2007, SI D+2 for 2004, HR D+3 for the period 2004-2006. DE: 2009 data refer to the dominant market player.
  • List price standard letter: prices might not be comparable across countries due to different pricing systems used, either pricing according to weight or pricing according to format. The data received in national currencies have been converted into Euro using the annual average exchange rates. 2009 data for DE refer to the leading market player. The data presented for MK for intra-EU prices refer to international service.

Figure 1

  • The following data are confidential: MT and SK in 2004; CZ, FR, LU and FI in 2009.
  • No data available for: RO and MK in 2004; EU27, IT, UK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • Turnover from domestic postal sector and GDP: see note Table 1.

Figure 2

  • The following data are confidential: IT in 2004; BE in 2009.
  • No data available for: MK in 2004; IE, IT, UK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • Employment in the domestic postal sector and total employment: see note Table 1.

Figure 3

  • No data available for: MK in 2004; IT, UK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • Post offices and population: see note Table 1.

Table 4

  • 2009 data for DE refer to the leading market player.

Figure 4

  • The following data are confidential: BE, FR and UK in 2004; BE and FR in 2009.
  • No data available for: EE, LT, AT, MK and IS in 2004; EU27, DE, IT, AT, UK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • Population: see note Table 1.

Figure 5

  • The following data are confidential: BE, FR, IT and UK in 2004; BE and FR in 2009.
  • No data available for: EE, LT, AT, MK and IS in 2004; DE, IE, IT, AT, UK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • Employment in the domestic postal sector: see note Table 1.

Figure 6

  • The following data are confidential: BE, FR, PT, UK and NO in 2004; BE, FR and PT in 2009.
  • No data available for: EE, LT, AT, MK and IS in 2004; EU27, DE, IT, NL, AT, UK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • Ordinary letters and postcards: see note Table 3.

Figure 7

  • The following data are confidential: BE, FR and UK in 2004; BE, DK and FR in 2009.
  • No data available for: EE, IT, LT, NL, AT, MK, IS and NO in 2004; IT, NL, AT, UK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • According to the information received from the countries, there was no reserved area in CY, FI and SE for 2004 and 2009 and in DE, EE and MK for 2009.

Figure 8

  • The data for AT in 2009 are confidential.
  • No data available for: RO and MK in 2004; FR, IT, MK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • On-time delivery: see note Table 3

Figure 9

  • No data available for: MK in 2004; FR, IT, IS and NO in 2009.
  • List price standard letter: see note Table 3.

Figure 10

  • The data for MT in 2004 is confidential.
  • No data available for: MK in 2004; FR, IT, IS and NO in 2009.
  • The data presented for MK in 2009 refer to international service.
  • List price standard letter: see note Table 3.

Figure 11

Figure 12

  • The data for MT in 2004 are confidential.
  • No data available for: MK in 2004; FR, IT, MK, IS and NO in 2009.
  • PPPs: see note Figure 11.

Context

The purpose of Community policy in the postal sector is to complete the internal market for postal services and to ensure, through an appropriate regulatory framework, that efficient, reliable and good-quality postal services are available throughout the European Union to all its citizens at affordable prices. The importance of postal services both for the economic prosperity and social well-being and cohesion of the EU make this a priority area for Community action.

The Community framework for EU postal services is set out in Directive 97/67as amended by Directive 2002/39 and as amended by Directive 2008/06 (3rd Postal Directive). The improvement of quality of service, in particular in terms of delivery performance and convenient access are fundamental aspects of the EU postal policy. The Commission monitors and ensures the correct implementation of the regulatory framework and, where appropriate, proposes changes to this framework in order to achieve the Community's postal policy objectives. The above-mentioned directives provide the European legal framework with which the national regulatory authorities are to accelerate and promote the opening of markets.

The process of liberalising the postal services market in the EU was initially set in motion by the Green Paper on the development of the single market for postal services in 1992, as part of the goal to create a European single market. The aim was to get national monopolies to open up to competition in order to make postal services cheaper, faster, more efficient and more innovative, harmonise performance across EU Member States and improve the quality of cross border-services.

The ongoing process of liberalisation has brought about a gradual reduction of reserved postal services. Most of the Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) should have reached the complete liberalisation of the postal sector as of January 1, 2011, while for the rest of the Member States the deadline is extended as of January 1, 2013.

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Database

Postal services (post)
Universal Service Providers (post_ps)
Employment (post_ps_empn)
Turnover (post_ps_tur)
Access points (post_ps_ac)
Breakdown of letter post services (post_ps_let)
Prices (post_ps_pri)
Quality of service (post_ps_qs)

Methodology / Metadata

Other information

  • Postal Directive 97/67 of 15 December 1997 on common rules for the development of the internal market of Community postal services and the improvement of quality of service.
  • Postal Directive 2002/39 of 10 June 2002 amending Directive 97/67 with regard to the further opening to competition of Community postal services.
  • Postal Directive 2008/06 of 20 February 2008 amending Directive 97/67 with regard to the full accomplishment of the internal market of Community postal services.

External links

See also

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