Universal service obligation
bpost is the designated provider of the Universal Service Obligation until 31 December 2023. This entails:
- Collection, sorting, transport and distribution of postal items up to 2kg and single piece postal packages up to 10kg (and up to 20kg for packages coming from Member States)
- Providing services for registered items and insured items
Furthermore, as Universal Service Provider, bpost is required to:
- Apply uniform tariffs and an identical service across the territory
- Operate at least 1 access point per municipality in Belgium
- Collect and distribute postal items at least 5 times a week (excluding Sundays and official holidays)
- Cover the full territory of Belgium for collection and delivery of items belonging to universal service
Any operator (other than the designated USO provider) who performs letter mail service falling in the scope of the USO requires a license issued by the Belgian postal regulator IBPT/BIPT.
To obtain a license, the operator in question needs to employ contractual workers to ensure a level playing field.
Services of General Economic Interest
bpost renders several public service missions or Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) for which it is compensated by the Belgian State. bpost has been granted two concessions by the Belgian State for executing press distribution. These concessions run for a 5-year period from 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2020 and have been extended for 2 years until 31 December 2022. They entail:
- Early distribution of newspapers (before 7:30 in weekdays and 10:00 on Saturdays)
- Distribution of periodicals at a tariff set by the Belgian State
Besides press distribution, bpost also renders a couple of other SGEI. These are described in the Sixth Management Contract concluded with the Belgian State. They entail:
- Maintain an extensive retail network of post offices and post points
- Payment at home of pensions and other social allowances
- The acceptance in Post Offices of cash deposits to current account or payments to current accounts
- Distribution of elections printed matters at a reduced tariff
- Delivery of letter post items that fall within the freepost system
The Sixth Management Contract is covering a 5-year period from 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2020. The Sixth Management contract was automatically prolonged until the end of 2021. The amount of compensation to which bpost is entitled in 2021 will be subject to discussions between the Belgian State and bpost.
bpost receives a maximum compensation (excluding inflation) for both the press concessions and the Sixth Management Contract of € 261.0m in 2016, € 260.8m in 2017, € 257.6m in 2018, € 252.6m in 2019 and € 245.6m in 2020. These amounts need to be inflated on a cumulated yearly basis, as a result of which the actual amounts for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 were respectively € 264.9m, € 270.0m, € 271.4m and
Mail pricing principles
For services falling within the USO, general pricing principles of affordability, cost-orientation, transparency and non-discrimination are applied. In addition, tariffs for single piece items must be uniform across the country.
Single piece domestic mail items & USO parcels falling within the “small user basket” are subject to a price-cap formula, which takes into account inflation, volume decline and efficiency gains. The unused part of the price increase margin is accrued for 3 years, every year on a rolling basis.
Price increases are in practice done on a yearly basis on 1 January.
The Belgian Institute for Postal services and Telecommunication (IBPT/BIPT, www.bipt.be) regulates the postal sector in Belgium.
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