The European Union has set out plans to make cross-border parcel delivery services more transparent and, ultimately cheaper.
The idea is to set up a website to display the cross-border delivery rates offered by delivery firms.
The EU Council has agreed on the general approach for a draft regulation. It said: “This dedicated website will make it easier for consumers and companies to compare rates and choose the best ones. Small delivery companies will be excluded from the obligation to provide their rates as that would create an excessive administrative burden for both the companies and the national administrations collecting the information.”
It believes that more transparent and, ultimately, cheaper pricing is expected to bolster cross-border online purchases in the EU. While 44 per cent of consumers buy online in their own country, only 15 per cent order online from another member state, citing high delivery charges as one of the main reasons for avoiding cross-border purchases. Cheaper and more transparent pricing could also encourage more retailers to sell online.
“We hope these new rules will lower delivery prices for citizens, especially those living in rural areas, and also for small businesses, which have limited negotiating power to strike good delivery deals,” said the Maltese presidency.
The draft rules also give regulators powers to monitor developments in the parcel delivery market better. Delivery firms will have to provide their national regulator with various sets of data, thereby enabling the regulators to assess prices and identify market failures. Regulators in several countries currently do not have access to such data, which hampers the monitoring of competition in the parcel markets.
The plan will need to be approved by both the Council and the European Parliament.