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Considerations will have to be made regarding more far-reaching interventions in the foreseeable future. These can be divided into possible short-term bridging measures, followed by longer-term proposals based on research.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) has presented concrete proposals to improve the quality of Dutch postal delivery, which has been performing below legal standards for some time. PostNL, the main company responsible for mail delivery, is under scrutiny. Minister Micky Adriaansens has informed the House of Representatives of the need for both short-term solutions and long-term visions.

Minister Adriaansens emphasized the unsustainability of the current situation and the need for immediate actions. She stated that short-term bridging measures are needed, followed by well-founded long-term strategies. Research by the ministry shows that both consumers and companies increasingly value the security of delivery rather than its speed. It is therefore being considered to extend the delivery time from 24 to 48 hours, with the exception of medical and funeral mail that must continue to be delivered within 24 hours.

One of the possible bridging measures is the extension of the delivery time to 48 hours by 2025. This means that mail posted on Wednesday, for example, must reach the recipient by Friday at the latest. Medical post and funeral post retain their delivery guarantee of 24 hours, six days a week.

The focus on short-term solutions goes hand in hand with extensive research into long-term strategies. This study, carried out by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) at the request of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, focuses on the future vision for postal services. Market developments, the cost structure and the scope of the Universal Postal Service (UPD) are examined. The results of this study, expected in early 2025, will form the basis for structural measures.

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Micky Adriaansens
Image: © National Government Olivier Middendorp - Minister Micky Adriaansens

"Possible interventions in the postal market are not intended to serve PostNL's business interests. These must ensure that consumers and companies can continue to use affordable, timely and reliable postal delivery."

The minister explained: “In the short term, the postal market will not yet be integrated into a broader delivery market or together with parcels. At the same time, the current Postal Act and other regulations no longer match current developments. We see that the current situation requires more far-reaching measures. In order not to lose valuable time, I am already putting this in motion, so that the next cabinet can get started on this. Possible interventions in the postal market are not intended to serve PostNL's business interests. These must ensure that consumers and companies can continue to use affordable, timely and reliable postal delivery.”

It is clear that the minister is committed to reforming the postal delivery market. The proposals to extend the delivery time and the extensive investigation by the ACM should ensure that postal services in the Netherlands return to the desired level. The current situation, in which PostNL does not meet the legal standards, requires drastic and well-thought-out measures.

The extension of delivery time to 48 hours is a clear short-term solution that responds to the changing needs of consumers and businesses. The maintenance of fast delivery for medical and funeral mail shows that attention is still being paid to the most urgent mail categories.

In the longer term, it is crucial that the findings of the ACM research lead to sustainable solutions. This research will not only provide insight into current market dynamics, but also assess the extent to which PostNL is making sufficient efforts to meet its obligations. The goal is a future-proof postal market that functions efficiently and reliably without the need for government subsidies.

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