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 Full text 
Monday, 12 March 2018 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Cross-border parcel delivery services (debate)

  Lucy Anderson, rapporteur. – Mr President, I am delighted to have the chance to present to Parliament this new regulation on cross-border parcels. The regulation started out as a proposal in 2016 as part of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy, with the objective of helping to boost cross-border e—commerce by improving parcel delivery. Thanks to the hard work of many MEP colleagues and staff, the Commission and the Estonian Presidency, we have a provisionally agreed text today. I urge everyone to support this text in the form of the new cross-border parcels regulation in tomorrow’s vote.

The initial aims of the regulation were to help secure a more efficient parcel sector, increase transparency of tariffs, and assess prices where necessary. Together, I believe we have secured these aims and also added a stronger focus on consumer needs and the interests of small- and medium-sized enterprises when ordering goods from other EU countries. As emphasised in recital 2 of this regulation, Article 14 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union highlights the place occupied by services of general economic interest, such as postal and parcel services, in the shared values of the Union, as well as their role in promoting social and territorial cohesion.

The main elements of the regulation are as follows: we have agreed to expand the scope of key provisions to a certain extent where necessary to all cross-border parcel delivery service providers, not just those designated as providing a universal service. This is right, especially since universal service providers do not always have a large share of the cross-border parcels market. The regulation also covers multinationals and newer players in the parcel sector, including those with alternative business models.

On the provision of information to national regulators, Article 4 applies not only to cross—order parcel operators, but to all parcel delivery companies, other than those with fewer than 50 persons working for them. Regulators can also, where justified, include smaller companies with between 25 and 49 workers. As part of this duty, parcel companies will give information each year on the employment status of workers delivering parcels, along with details of the sub-contractors they use. This, in my view, will help to expose the activities of some businesses who do not give their parcel workforce proper terms and conditions of employment, and instead require them to operate on a self-employed or precarious basis. It is encouraging that this aspect of the regulation has been particularly welcomed by trade unions.

Rules on cross-border parcel tariffs in Articles 5 and 6 empower and enable national authorities more specifically to monitor delivery prices and assess cross-border prices that they deem unreasonably high. Whilst the regulation does not impose a cap on prices, it will allow users more easily to compare domestic and cross-border tariffs. Parcel companies will have to disclose prices ,and these will be published by the Commission on a dedicated website.

Where parcel delivery is subject to universal service obligations, authorities will have a clearer power to investigate further, where necessary, taking into account the likely impact of prices, including on anyone who is disabled or who has reduced mobility, and smaller companies and citizens in remote areas.

The factors that authorities shall take into account in any assessment also include any relevant costs, quality of service standards and volumes, as well as tariffs of comparable parcel delivery services providers. The existence of price regulation and abuses of dominant market position may also be taken into account, if necessary. These provisions have been drafted, as has the regulation as a whole – and I emphasise this point with care – to make sure that the principles of the Postal Services Directive are not undermined or contradicted.

In line with the 2011 Consumer Rights Directive, Article 7 of this regulation emphasises that consumers are to be provided with proper information on delivery options and charges payable and complaints-handling policies, where applicable. Given the concrete evidence on problems with parcel deliveries in quite a few cases, I would have preferred this provision to be stronger, but it is still a good start. There is indeed plenty of evidence on problems with parcel deliveries.

Finally, I am pleased that the Commission is working with the support of Parliament on a comprehensive study on parcel delivery, and the regulation underlines that standardisation work should include environmental considerations and require a first review two years after entry into force, including on affordability, consumer protection and standards issues.

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