The process of liberalizing the postal services market in the EU was initially set in motion by the Green Paper on the development of the single market for postal services in 1992. The first reduction of the "reserved area" of postal services (i.e., the monopoly services reserved for government enterprises) was introduced in 1999.
The European legal framework with which the national regulatory authorities are to accelerate and promote the opening of markets consists of two EU directives from the years 1997 and 2002; in addition, the Third Postal Directive was published in the EU's Official Journal in February 2008. The ongoing process of liberalization has brought about a gradual reduction of reserved postal services, and the complete liberalization of the postal sector was realized on January 1, 2011.
Postal services are regarded as services of general economic interest and are very important to commercial users and retail consumers alike. The markets for postal services are dynamic, and they have developed rapidly in connection with the constantly growing markets for communication, advertising and electronic commerce.
The primary objective of the European Union as well as the Austrian legislature is to realize the single market for postal services and at the same time to ensure the high quality of universal services in this sector. For this reason, postal services are being opened to competition in a gradual and controlled process. The main goal of this policy is to improve service quality and in particular to ensure short delivery times and comfortable access to services.
The European legal framework (and thus also the full liberalization of the postal service sector in Austria) was implemented in the Postal Market Act (PMG), which went into effect on January 1, 2011.