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Post - Because the EU says so...


A letter from Brussels to Foreign Secretary David Miliband, dated 28 November 2007, discussed the relationship between the EU and our postal service. Its Paragraph 11 stated, "The transformation programme will involve Post Office Limited reducing the size of its post office network by around 2,500 branches."

But since the start of the year there's been no need for letters like this: an EU official has been appointed as one of the seven Commissioners of Postcomm, the government's postal regulator. Ulf Dahlsten, as Postcomm's own website states, is "on sabbatical from the European Commission" for three years. "Ulf Dahlsten has been actively involved in the deregulation of the Swedish postal, taxi and telecom services," the website informs us.

The government said the closures were needed because Royal Mail was losing millions each week – due in important part to the liberalisation of postal service markets. The EU Postal Services Directive, amended in 2003, requires liberalisation and opening up to competition, which has damaged Royal Mail's revenues.

As the EU Commission notes, "The Postal Directive implicitly endorses the objective of full market opening and also sets a target date of 2009 for the accomplishment of the internal market for postal services."

• New rules introduced by Royal Mail in August 2006 called Pricing in Proportion require post items to be priced by size as well as weight. The Postal Services Directive is behind the new rules: Article 12 states that "prices must be geared to costs".