TALLINN – Estonia's Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Andres Sutt has signed a document of legislative intent to prepare a bill on amendments to the Postal Act with a view to updating the requirements applied to the postal sector, ensuring accessible and convenient postal services for the user, and reducing the administrative burden and costs.
According to the minister, the Postal Act has remained unchanged for almost 15 years and needs to be updated.
"The postal market has changed very rapidly and new services based on smart devices, the internet and other data communication solutions are increasingly offering competition to the traditional postal service," Sutt said in a press release.
As a result, the numbers of letters sent have decreased significantly, which means that maintaining a proper postal network for the provision of the universal postal service is increasingly unprofitable for the service provider. In 2020, the loss sustained totaled almost 2.7 million euros, and the National Audit Office has estimated the total loss for 2021-2025 to amount to 16.6 million euros, the minister said.
According to the minister, Estonia will transition to a service-based approach.
"Increasingly, people want to receive their letters and parcels at a time and place that suits them, such as via parcel machines. The Postal Act in force today sets very restrictive requirements on both the time and the way of delivery. It is inevitably costly to comply with such stringent requirements, and they need to be reviewed to avoid significant price increases," said Sutt.
The amendments to the Postal Act will reduce the service provider's costs of providing the universal postal service and ensure its sustainability. The changes will also reduce administrative burdens and unnecessary regulation.
The proposed changes include, among other things, harmonizing the norms of postal service with international standards, updating concepts, and making the requirements concerning the speed of home delivery more flexible.
In addition, the financing arrangements for the universal postal service will be changed and the price of the service, which must be cost-based and affordable, will be determined by the Competition Authority in the future.
"The ultimate aim is for the universal postal service provider to be able to offer a high quality postal service where it is needed, in a form that is convenient for the user and at a reasonable cost for the consumer, the service provider and the state," the minister added.
The document on the intention to draft a bill to amend the Postal Act was sent to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Association of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities for feedback. Plans are for the bill to be sent for consultation this summer and the expected date of entry into force of the amendments is Jan. 1, 2023.