The EU is close to finalising new rules on making the cross-border parcel delivery market more transparent and subject to increased regulatory controls. The new rules are expected to come into effect at the beginning of 2019. The main elements of the new Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery are:

Price transparency: While the Regulation does not impose a cap on prices, it will foster competitive pressure by allowing users to easily compare domestic and cross-border tariffs. Parcel delivery providers will have to disclose prices for the services individual consumers and small businesses often use, which the Commission will publish on a website.

Regulatory oversight: Where parcel delivery is subject to the universal service obligation, National Regulatory Authorities will assess whether tariffs for cross-border services are unreasonably high compared to the underlying cost – as they already do for postal services.

National regulators will be given new powers to identify better parcel service providers and the services they offer. This will allow them to get a better overview also of the many innovative new players in the fast-growing EU cross-border e-commerce market.

Traders also have to provide consumers with clear information on prices charged for cross-border parcel delivery and returns, and customer complaints procedures, in line with the Consumers Rights Directive.

A 2013 Commission survey found that consumers and small businesses struggle with parcel delivery, in particular with the high prices, which prevent them from buying or selling more from other Member States. Research shows that the public cross-border prices charged by universal service providers are up to five times higher than the domestic equivalent and that these differences cannot be explained by labour or other costs in the destination country. Prices from broadly similar originating Member States over comparable distances sometimes vary significantly without obvious explanatory cost factors.