Regulatory environment

The Dutch postal market has changed fundamentally over the past years. Dutch mail volumes have decreased by more than half since 2005 and the decline will continue. Below we discuss the impact regulation is having on the postal sector in which we operate.

General regulatory developments

On 9 April 2019 the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate published its proposed amendments to the (public) consultation on the review of the Dutch Postal Law 2009. The amendments aim at keeping nationwide mail delivery affordable and reliable against the backdrop of a changing market.

On 3 June 2019 we submitted our response to the public consultation of the review. The ministry submitted the proposed amendments to the Council of State (Raad van State) for advice. It is expected that the Postal Law will be discussed in Parliament in 2020.

Significant Market Power regulation

On 24 December 2018, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) published a new draft Significant Market Power (SMP) decision after its former SMP decision was annulled by the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb). PostNL submitted its opinion on the draft on 14 February 2019. No SMP decision has been taken so far.


On 25 February 2019 PostNL and Sandd announced they had reached an agreement to merge, and PostNL consequently submitted a merger notification to the ACM.

The ACM concluded on 1 April 2019 that a further examination was required in order to obtain a licence. This second phase investigation was initiated on 4 April when PostNL filed the licence application.

After the ACM concluded on 5 September 2019 that it could not clear the intended merger, PostNL applied for a licence with the Minister of Economic Affairs. The Dutch competition act provides a possibility for the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate to grant a license after a refusal of the Competition Authority based on strong considerations of common interest.

On 27 September 2019, the State Secretary of Economic Affairs and Climate, to whom the competence has been delegated, eventually cleared the merger between PostNL and Sandd by granting a license. This approval is under the condition that PostNL will continue to provide access to other postal operators and adheres to its commitments on re-employment. Furthermore, PostNL is subjected to a 9% rate of return ceiling concerning its mail activities (both USO and non-USO). These conditions will be supervised by the ACM.


On 19 February 2019, PostNL announced it has decided to stop contracting and will start working with temporary workers at parcel sorting centres. PostNL is committed to equal pay for all parcel sorters and wants to provide clarity in the social discussion on contracting. The wages of temporary workers will be based on PostNL's collective labour agreement (CLA).

On 8 March 2019, the FNV trade union took PostNL to court claiming that a group of parcel sorters contracted through staffing agency InPerson were hired by PostNL, not contracted. On 7 May 2019, the court agreed with the FNV and held PostNL liable for the payment of outstanding wages. PostNL held the contracting parties responsible for the subsequent payment. PostNL will appeal the court's decision.

Inspection ILT

In July 2019, PostNL received the official audit report for the qualification of system supervision by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT). ILT supervises the requirements for safe transport, including dangerous goods, and working conditions. These working conditions are related to working hours and regulations in loading. The audit report shows that our management system works well, meaning PostNL qualifies for system supervision by the ILT. This system supervision is a lighter audit for companies which have demonstrated business systems and control measures that manage and ensure compliance with legislation and regulations.

EU Regulation

As a consequence of the newly adopted EU directives amending value added tax (VAT) obligations for supplies of services and the distance sales of goods, the existing VAT exemption for the importation of low-value small consignments will be removed as per 2021. Additionally, the implementation of EU customs rules on safety and security leads to an obligation to provide content data on all parcels and packages in advance as per Q2 2021. These changes will have an operational and IT impact on both customs authorities and PostNL. Discussions with national authorities and the European Commission on the operational and cost impact are ongoing.

The European Commission is in the process of reviewing the EU Postal regulation, consisting of the postal services directive (2008) and the cross-border parcel delivery regulation (2018). The European Regulator Group Post believes greater competition regulation will lead to a fairer and more effective market. PostNL and the other EU postal operators support the legal obligation to provide a (flexible) universal postal service but see no need for specific market regulation. A legislative proposal is not expected from the European Commission before 2021.

UPU agreements

At the Extraordinary Congress of the UPU in September 2019 in Geneva, it was agreed that member countries will be able to set their own rates for small packages from 2021, with a transition period applied capping the maximum yearly increases until 2025. The transition period does not apply to the United States allowing them to apply self-declared rates as of July 2020 (on a reciprocal basis). The consequence of this outcome will be increased revenues for PostNL for e-commerce flows to the Netherlands that originate from Asia. However, the costs for the delivery of e-commerce items from the Netherlands to the rest of the world will also increase . Overall, PostNL expects the balance to be positive.


The United Kingdom (UK) formally left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020 with a withdrawal agreement, and moved into a transition period that is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020. During this transition period the UK will effectively remain in the EU's customs union and single market awaiting a possible final deal. As a result, during this transition period no major impact is expected on the flows of mail and e-commerce to and from the UK. Although the future trade agreement after the transition period will have little impact on the exchange of mail between the EU and the UK, there is expected to be an impact on e-commerce flows. The extent of this impact will depend on the outcome of the trade negotiations, as this will guide customs policies and therefore the ease of shipping goods between the two regions. PostNL will continue to closely monitor developments regarding the negotiations for the new EU-UK trade agreement, and will prepare accordingly.