On January 1, 11 member states of the European Union ended their postal monopolies, Under the terms of the European Union's Third Postal Directive, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain joined the other six countries that have already ended the postal monopoly rights for their traditional national carrier -  Estonia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In these nations, the last and largest reserved area of the mail – letters up to 50 grams – are open to competition. As a result, some 95 percent of the EU’s internal postal market is liberalized.

With a further 11 European countries ending their postal monopolies, this should be good news for direct mailers.  In theory over the longer term, as competition develops, this should bring lower postage costs as has already been seen in the UK. However, to date this has been slow to develop in many of the other liberalized countries.

The remaining ten EU member states, who are new entrants to the European Union – Cyprus, Czech Republic, Luxemburg, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia however, have been granted an additional two years to implement full liberalization in their countries.