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Norway Post’s exclusive rights – description of the scope of exclusive rights and availability of exemptions

Act no. 73 of 29 November 1996 relating to the provision of universal postal services (Postal Services Act), Section 6 establishes the scope of exclusive rights for Posten Norge AS (Norway Post). The areas covered by Norway Post’s exclusive rights are described below. The criteria are also described for exemptions from the exclusive rights to the benefit of other postal operators.

1. What is covered by the exclusive rights of Posten Norge AS?

Section 6 of the Norwegian Postal Services Act gives Norway Post exclusive rights to regularly convey, at a charge, sealed addressed domestic letters weighing up to 50 grams and priced up to two and a half times the basic tariff for a domestic priority letter in the first weight category (20 grams). The weight and price limits were 100 grams and priced up to three times the basic tariff until 1 January 2006, and have been amended in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2002/39/EC.

This means that mail either weighing more than 50 grams or costing more than two and a half times the basic tariff including VAT is not covered by the exclusive rights.

The exclusive rights also apply to the conveying of equivalent letters sent to Norway from abroad. The conveying of letters from Norway to foreign countries is not covered by exclusive rights, irrespective of weight or price.

2. The liberalisation of the postal markets in Europe

Directive 2008/6/EC amending Directive 97/67/EC requires the abolition of remaining exclusive rights by 31 December 2009. Some countries were given an extended deadline to 31 December 2010. The amending Directive can be found here. See also the press release from the European Commission about the amending Directive and a further link to the Commission’s website here.

The (Stoltenberg) Government believes that Norway Post’s exclusive rights are an important means of maintaining the equal provision of postal services throughout the country at an equal price, and that on this basis there are compelling arguments for Norway to oppose incorporating amending Directive 2008/6/EC in the EEA Agreement. The Directive has not been implemented in Norwegian law.

3. Criteria for exemptions to the exclusive rights

The final paragraph of Section 6 of the Norwegian Postal Services Act allows for exemptions to be made from the exclusive rights to the benefit of another postal operator licensed pursuant to Section 4. By January 2011, the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications had only received two applications for an exemption/licence, both of which have been granted. An exemption/licence has been granted to Government Administration Services, which conveys post within the Government quarter, and to Lokalposten in Kongsberg. Both companies primarily convey mail outside the scope of the exclusive rights, but do also convey some sealed mail.