Today the President signed into law the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011 which transposes the EU Third Postal Service Directive and marks the final step in opening the market to full competition.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, said that “the enactment of this legislation represents an important milestone in the development of the postal sector and represents a fair and balanced approach to liberalisation.”
In addition to removing the final legal monopoly from An Post to deliver letters, the Act introduces a number of important firsts with respect to primary legislation for the postal sector in Ireland:
It guarantees the daily provision of a postal service to every address throughout the entire country
It provides for challenging targets with respect to the regulation of the quality of this service
It designates An Post as the postal operator who must guarantee this universal service for twelve years
It provides for the framework for regulating access to the An Post delivery network by its competitors
It provides for stronger levels of consumer protection, including means of redress, for all postal users
It provides for additional consumer protection by requiring a price cap to be put in place for services most commonly used by individual postal users
The Minister concluded that whilst the migration away from post to electronic communications presented a significant challenge for the sector, he said he expected that An Post along, with its competitors, will deliver the range and quality of competitively priced, innovative postal services that Irish business and personal postal users are entitled to.
“This is not to deny the considerable challenge facing An Post. Since 2008 the combined impact of the recession and of electronic substitution has been a reduction in traditional mail volume of almost 20%. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the manner in which management and union in an Post are cooperating to meet this challenge and diversify into new products and services”
The bill also enables almost €10 million to be transferred from the TV license revenue to help fund TG4.