Future of Universal Postal Service

A  panel  entitled "Universal postal service (UPS) sustainability in light of digitization" was hosted by the Public Enterprise „Post of Serbia“ and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Various hot topics that shape postal and logistics market players’ business operations were discussed at this event, including sectoral innovations and regulatory frame changes, highlighting in particular the UPS sustainabilty.

The ever-growing impact of digital technologies on the classic postal service provision, reflected above all in the growth of parcel volumes as a consequence of e-commerce development,  reducing the need for physical letter posting, has significantly influenced the notion and reality of the UPS sustainabilty.

Adapting the classic postal service to the new technologies, the positioning in the  financial services market, advancements in the area of postal regulation and the development of postal infrastructure as a support to the government e-services were among the topics discussed by Ljubomir Ostojić, director of Postal Services Department (RATEL), dr Nikola Trubint, head of Postal Regulation Division (RATEL) and vice chair of CERP, prof. dr Dragana Šarac of the Faculty of Technical Sciences,  prof. dr Nikola Knežević of the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering, Zoran Đorđević, acting director of the PE „Post of Serbia“ and Srđan Smiljković of the PE „Post of Serbia“, as a moderator.

According to the UPU and  CERP data, up to the end of the 20th century, the postal services income growth kept up the pace with the GDP growth. In the meantime, these two speed rates separated into a two-tier model, whereby the today's global GDP grows by approximately 30% faster than the postal service income. The UPS concept means that anyone can send a postal item to any address under the same conditions in the whole national territory for a unique postage fee. According to the idea presented at the Plenary CERP meeting last year in Madrid, the future of the industry lies in the modification of the traditional postal market and new solutions to a possible concept change, which would among other introduce adjustments in the existing UPS definition, explained dr Trubint. These modifications would imply changing of the term „universal postal service“ with the term „universal postal network service“, and the term „single user service“ with the term „public interest service“.

Director of Postal Services Department Ljubomir Ostojić said that  RATEL was about to begin the elaboration of the Study on the UPS sustainability, in accordance with the Action Plan of the Government of the Republic of Serbia for the implementation of the Strategy for the development of postal services in the Republic of Serbia 2021 – 2025. The study is planned to be realized in cooperation with the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications and the PE „Post of Serbia“. A special accent will be placed on the analysis of the needs of citizens, businesses and government institutions, in terms of both the existing UPS services and new ones. In addition, quality standards associated with these services will be analyzed as well, according to the European practice, including UPS costs and financing. The results of the study are expected in a year, where different scenarios for a further UPS development will be detailed, including all risks and benefits, which will contribute to making a quality choice regarding the future of UPS. The obtained results are expected to be significantly implemented on the occasion of making changes and amendments to the Law on Postal Services, planned pursuant to the Strategy before the end of 2024.

The panel participants have identified the elaboration of an all-encompassing analysis structured around RATEL’s UPS sustainability study as a short-term goal, followed by the incorporation of expert and sustainable solutions into the Law on Postal Services defined as a medium-term goal, with the integration of postal infrastructure into the government infrastructure for the purpose of a more precise positioning of the PE „Post of Serbia“ in state-entrusted tasks being specified as a long-term goal.