Eu­ro­pean Com­mit­tee for Stan­dard­iza­tion (CEN)

European standardisation activities in the postal sector are the responsibility of CEN. The Technical Committee for postal services (CEN/TC 331), which currently comprises four working groups, is responsible within CEN.

Structure and composition

Around 80 experts from 34 European countries are currently active in the TC 331 committee "Postal services". The groups bring together representatives of industry, postal operators, online trade, trade associations and consumer organisations, and regulatory authorities – such as the Bundesnetzagentur – and ministries who cooperate on relevant standardisation matters.


CEN/TC 331's standardisation activities are closely coordinated with the UPU's standardisation body, the Standards Board. Cooperation between the two bodies is based on a Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement serves to avoid disparities and, in line with this, promote the joint development of topical technical standards.

European Commission standardisation requests

The European Commission issues successive standardisation requests, or mandates, for the European standardisation of postal services. A new mandate (M/590) was formally issued to CEN at the beginning of 2023. A total of seven individual projects were named specifically by the European Commission in digitalisation, track-and-trace applications, contactless delivery as well as sustainability and environment-related aspects. The rules set out that the standardisation request is to be implemented in a work cycle lasting 48 months, which means that this cycle will end in 2027.

The main objectives of M/590 were the:

  1. harmonisation of track-and-trace events;
  2. use of technology for the tracking of postal items;
  3. digitalisation of postal transport documents;
  4. digital identification of postal operators;
  5. solutions to achieve effective and environmentally sound delivery;
  6. definition of a methodology to calculate and report the environmental impact (greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutant emissions) of end-to-end parcel transportation and handling from the original collection point to the point of final delivery, in alignment with the principles of recognised environmental accounting frameworks, standards and guidance;
  7. safe, secured and contactless delivery of postal items.

Role of the Bundesnetzagentur

The Bundesnetzagentur's particular objective in its standardisation activities is to ensure that national and European legal provisions are met, and that no monopolies that would distort competition develop in the physical postal service market or are transferred from the physical to the electronic postal service market. The Bundesnetzagentur ensures transparency in the publication of work programmes, non-discriminatory access in the development of standards, and clear communications to the competition in the market.