NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The EU Pushes Private Postal Services

December 2, 1999

The European Union has set a deadline of January 1, 2003, to open Europe to competitive postal services -- and the Netherlands is leading the way.

  • That country's TNT Post Group N.V. will be the world's first national postal system to go private.
  • With revenues of $8 billion and a stock market capitalization of $12 billion, the group is reportedly driving hard to extend its reach.
  • It is Europe's most efficient post office -- handling 116,000 pieces of mail per employee, compared with only 80,000 per employee in Germany.
  • By investing early in automated sorting and relying on students, housewives and other part-time personnel to handle seasonal fluctuations in volume, the system's officials maintained the same number of employees they had 10 years earlier -- while handling 50 percent more mail.

Efficient and innovative as it is, the system faces competition from United Parcel Service and Federal Express -- which are focusing on fast-growing transatlantic traffic.

Because of economies of scale, the U.S. and Japan are the most efficient deliverers of mail in the world. But the privatized Dutch system is right behind.

Source: Deborah Orr, "The Post Office With a Ticker," Forbes, November 29, 1999.


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