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The Dinosaurs March In Europe

Jeremy Hetherington-Gore Unleashed
15 July, 2007

So the European Parliament, after agonized deliberations dominated by trade union champions in the full panoply of their mediaeval spendour, has finally voted in favour of postal liberalization. But not yet, as St Augustine said when embracing chastity.

It's a full 30 years since it became apparent to any half-wit that the market would deliver better and cheaper postal services than nineteenth-century monopolies with their archaic working practices.

Now, according to the EP's vote, it will be 2011 before Europe finally sees commercial delivery of letters weighing less than 50 grams. The Commission had hoped for 2009.

Why has it taken so long to achieve something resembling a functioning market in postal services?

Oh, all the obvious reasons: governments not wanting to upset hundreds of thousands of voters, economic ignorance on the part of legislators, trades unions entrenched so deeply that you can't even see the tops of their heads.

It's happening now only because it doesn't matter any more anyway. Within a few years even the most remote Scottish island will have wireless broadband, and letters will be a thing of the past, for better or worse. Governments will still waste money though and hobble the market in pursuit of the Universal Service Obligation, making sure that Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies in his Orkney hideaway and rich shipping magnates on obscure Greek islands continue to receive brochures advertising lingerie and home-delivery groceries.

But at least I will be able to compete to receive the subsidy alongside the Bundespost and Federal Express.


About the Author

Jeremy Hetherington-Gore Unleashed

Jeremy tackles the difficult issues head on!


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