Debating the future of the universal postal service

Debating the future of the universal postal service

The Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication (DETEC) has published the results of the working group on the future of the universal postal service.

In its report, the working group concluded that the accessibility of postal services and payment transactions should be measured and presented in a more differentiated manner – i.e. that accessibility should no longer to be measured on a nationwide basis but per canton. Furthermore, a new criterion will be introduced relating to the accessibility of services in cities and conurbations.

In a statement issued today (16 May), Swiss Post said: “The published recommendations mean far-reaching changes, together with the accompanying costs, to the universal service. Swiss Post nevertheless supports the consensus reached within the working group.”

Swiss Post added: “Until now, the accessibility of postal services and payment transaction services has been measured, checked and published using national values.

“In the future, these values will be measured at cantonal level in order to place more emphasis on the equal treatment of the regions. In particular, this recommendation of the working group reflects a need of the less densely populated regions of Switzerland and is in line with the decisions of the Swiss Federal Parliament.

“At the same time, the working group also takes the needs of cities and conurbations into consideration. In order to map living habits in urban areas, it is recommended that one access point be guaranteed for every 15,000 inhabitants or workers.

“The cantonal approach and the introduction of a new criterion for urban areas are more elaborate in methodological terms than the current regulation. These recommendations nevertheless echo Swiss Post’s desire to provide its services wherever its customers are – both in the country and in conurbations and cities.”

Continuing on the theme of its plans for accessibility, Swiss Post said: “With the network strategy 2020, Swiss Post will, as already announced, increase the number of access points to more than 4,200. It is taking measures to increase the attractiveness of the different access points within the postal network, in particular the branches with partners. It is important to Swiss Post that its services remain accessible for sections of the population with little affinity for new technologies. Swiss Post is clearly committed to and continues to invest in physical access points within the postal network of the future.

“Globally speaking, the provisions with which Swiss Post must comply have been made significantly more stringent through the recommendations, and its entrepreneurial freedom has been restricted from a legal standpoint. Swiss Post is nevertheless willing to support the recommendations of the working group and to test their implementation in practice. To avoid the universal postal service becoming mired in the status quo, it is nevertheless essential that the legal requirements be periodically evaluated and brought into line with reality.”

Susanne Ruoff, CEO of Swiss Post, added: “The issue of network reorganization affects Switzerland as a whole. In 2016, we adopted an approach characterized by transparency and dialogue. That is why we welcomed the working group on universal postal service. Thanks to its composition, the results are broadly supported. Despite more stringent accessibility criteria and the associated costs, Swiss Post supports the consensus that has been reached. We want to provide a strong public service in Switzerland also in the future.”

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