Universal service obligation for postal services proposed to be changed
On 21 April 2022, the Government submitted to Parliament a proposal for an act amending the Postal Act and for discretionary government grants for the delivery of newspapers.The aim is to ensure equal access to postal services as well as to secure the conditions for the five-day delivery of newspapers across Finland.
According to the government proposal, the current five-day collection and delivery system included in the universal postal service would be replaced by a three-day system. In future, the universal service provider should collect and deliver postal items falling within the scope of the universal service at least on three business days a week, excluding public holidays. In addition, the universal service provider would be obliged to inform the households of the days of collection and delivery as well as to provide up-to-date information about the collection and delivery days on its website.
In addition, the amendment would introduce a temporary government grant for newspaper delivery. The government grant would be available to areas lacking commercial early-morning delivery of newspapers and a fully comprehensive five-day delivery system.
The universal service obligation in line with the Postal Act only applies to items of correspondence that have been paid for in cash, such as stamped letters, and postal packages sent from Finland abroad. Newspapers and periodicals do not fall within the scope of the universal service obligation referred to in the Postal Act.
In January 2020, the Prime Minister's Office appointed an interministerial working group of state secretaries to assess the postal and delivery market and the need to amend the postal legislation. The group submitted its final report on 26 August 2020.
The report proposed that the current five-day collection and delivery system included in the universal postal service be replaced by a three-day system. The group suggested that a fixed-term government grant for communications be introduced in areas where early-morning delivery network of newspapers on commercial terms has not been carried out.
Postal services to be ensured in a changing environment
The purpose of the proposal is to prepare regulation that ensures cost-effective postal delivery in a changing operating environment where the volumes of traditional postal items are constantly falling. The proposal aims to ease the universal service obligation and increase its flexibility so that postal services can be implemented efficiently in the future, taking the needs of consumers into account.
The aim of the government grant for newspaper delivery is to provide a favourable environment for the five-day delivery system in areas with no commercial early-morning delivery of newspapers or a fully comprehensive five-day delivery system. This would ensure access to socially significant communications and support the diversity of news services.
A preliminary debate will be held on the proposal in a plenary session. The timetable for the debate will be listed on Parliament's website. After the referral debate, the proposal will be sent to a parliamentary committee. The committee will draft a report, which will then be discussed in a plenary session.
It is proposed that the main part of the proposal enter into force in autumn 2022. The new, lighter collection and delivery obligation would be applied and a discretionary government grant for newspaper delivery paid from the beginning of 2023.
Fanni Thessler, Senior Officer, fanni.thessler(at)gov.fi, tel. + 358 50 353 5515
Sini Wirén, Director of Unit, sini.wiren(at)gov.fi, tel. + 358 40 507 0916
Government grant for newspaper delivery:
Miikka Rainiala, Director of Unit, miikka.rainiala(at)gov.fi, tel. + 358 50 571 7751