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Cross-border parcel delivery boost for European SMEs

14 December 2017, 23:59 CET
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Cross-border parcel delivery boost for European SMEs

Parcel delivery

(BRUSSELS) - The EU institutions provisionally agreed Thursday on new rules to make cross-border parcel delivery tariffs more transparent and allow regulators to better monitor the cross-border parcel delivery market.

The new Regulation is expected to boost e-commerce in allowing consumers and companies, in particular small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs), to buy and sell products and services online more easily and confidently across the EU.

Consumers and small businesses struggle with parcel delivery, in particular with the high prices, preventing them from buying or selling more from other EU Member States, according to a 2013 European Commission survey. Research showed that the public cross-border prices charged by universal service providers are up to five times higher than the domestic equivalent and that these differences cannot be explained by labour or other costs in the destination country. Prices from broadly similar originating Member States over comparable distances sometimes vary significantly without obvious explanatory cost factors.

With more transparent cross-border delivery rates, consumers will now be encouraged to choose from a wider range of products and to buy more online. They will also offer new possibilities for retailers, especially for small businesses which do not have the bargaining power to negotiate better rates.

The rules were welcomed by the Commission. "High delivery prices are a major concern for consumers and companies, especially SMEs," said EC vice-president Andrus Ansip.

The main elements of the new Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery are:

  • Price transparency: While the Regulation does not impose a cap on prices, it will foster competitive pressure by allowing users to easily compare domestic and cross-border tariffs. Parcel delivery providers will have to disclose prices for the services individual consumers and small businesses often use, which the Commission will publish on a website.
  • Regulatory oversight: Where parcel delivery is subject to the universal service obligation, National Regulatory Authorities will assess whether tariffs for cross-border services are unreasonably high compared to the underlying cost – as they already do for postal services. National regulators will be given new powers to identify better parcel service providers and the services they offer. This will allow them to get a better overview also of the many innovative new players in the fast-growing EU cross-border e-commerce market.

Traders also have to provide consumers with clear information on prices charged for cross-border parcel delivery and returns, and customer complaints procedures, in line with the Consumers Rights Directive.

The provisional agreement reached today by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission now needs to be finally approved by the Parliament and the Council.It is expected to formally enter into force at the beginning of next year and it will be fully applicable in 2019.

Cross-border parcel delivery - background guide

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