U.S. Reply to a Questionnaire by Belgium, Chair of the UPU Reform of the Union Project Group
Questionnaire by Belgium, Chair of the Reform of the Union Project Group (of the UPU Council of Administration) on UPU Restructuring
Reply by the United States of America – See pages 2 to 5
Since the Seoul Congress the Union has been dedicating itself to a reorganisation that, let us hope, is about to bear fruit. This fits in with the developments in the postal sector and requires a clarification as to the powers that fall within the government’s brief and those that are bestowed upon the designated operators. The relations between the Union’s different permanent bodies need such clarification as well.
The ad hoc group under the “Reform of the Union” PG has asked Belgium to draw up a working document that will serve as basis for the following discussions in order to arrive at the next Congress with concrete proposals.
Of course, the principles below are not questioned. For example:
- the UPU’s intergovernmental nature;
- the UPU’s status as specialised agency of the United Nations;
- the Council of Administration as central body of the Union;
- the Postal Operations Council as body in charge of the operation of the courier services at international level;
- the preservation of the Consultative Committee;
- the International Bureau as facilitator for the operation and the organisation of the Union’s bodies.
My goal is to lay the groundwork for a discussion and constructive negotiation without taboos. I believe the preparations should be made discretely. Based on this consultation I will obtain an insight into what certain Member States are willing to discuss. The task I am asked to perform will already be somewhat demarcated.
I feel that it is necessary to work discretely at this early stage. That is why, barring explicit request by a Member State having answered, the comments published will not mention the Member States’ names.
The preliminary reorganisation draft will draw its inspiration from the “Reform of the Union” PG’s work and the studies performed by the HLG.
Naturally a maximum of people concerned will be invited to share their thoughts.
The document that will eventually be presented to the ad hoc group will not deal with the matter of the human resources management, the internal audit or the groups’ extra-budgetary activities. If these matters are to be included in the study, it will have to be done at a later stage when the reflection round is finished.
The document to be presented to the ad hoc group will be a document from the ad hoc group and not a document reflecting Belgium’s point of view.
2. Preliminary analysis of a number of points
The intergovernmental nature of the Union
The Union’s intergovernmental nature has an impact on several levels:
- the priority the Member State takes over the designated operators in the Union’s permanent bodies;
- the representation and the decision-making process within the POC;
- the decision-making process within the CA;
- the relations between the CA and the POC.
An initial outline seems readily available. The Union’s intergovernmental nature can be conceived in different ways.
Firstly, within a country itself, the power to discuss and to take decisions within the CA and the POC would be exclusively entrusted to representatives appointed by a Member State’s acknowledged authority. More specifically, it would involve representatives of a ministry or a national regulation authority. In that case the designated operator would assist the minister’s or the NRA’s representative within the POC.
Secondly, the CA as central body representing the activities that are governmental by nature would have fairly extended competences. It would still be made up by Member States’ representatives. The POC would become a body with the power to make recommendations (standards…), in charge of the postal operations. The designated operators’ representatives would have a seat in that body.
Finally, if everything remains the same for the CA as regards the POC, the Union’s intergovernmental nature would be restricted to the official designation of the designated operators in conformity with Article 2 of the UPU Convention. As for the mandate they would be granted at internal level, they would have the power to discuss and to vote within the POC. The POC would be entrusted with a considerable autonomy to make decisions within the limits of its competences.
The extent of the powers to discuss and to vote within the POC granted to the designated operators is an internal matter for each Member State. Of course these powers can not be assimilated to the ones that are bestowed upon the Member States during a Congress. That being the case, it should be al lot easier to check these powers than it is now for the Commission during each Congress. The verification would be performed by the body concerned. In the case of the POC the verification of the validity of these powers would be reported in a document attached to the report of the body concerned.
Statement no 2
Do you agree with the following statement? “The verification of the nature and the extent of the powers granted to a designated operator is carried out at the level of each of the Union’s permanent bodies involved (CA/POC) according to a yet to be established procedure.”
U.S. reply: No. The UPU Councils should not have the authority to verify the “nature and the extent of the powers granted to a designated operator.” We agree with the position of Great Britain that the powers granted to designated operators by member countries is an issue for individual sovereign states.
3. Representation of the Member States within the CA
The CA is the body representing the Union’s intergovernmental nature. Several Member States are represented by DO even if they have a ministry or a regulator in place. It is not a matter of questioning such a principle of national sovereignty as regards the designation of delegations. The discussion should be held at the governance level.
Statement no 3
Do you agree with the following statement? “In keeping with the principle of national sovereignty as to the definition of the composition of the delegations, Member States are invited to choose, as far as possible, representatives that are not designated operators.”
U.S. reply: We understand the phrase “invited to choose” to mean “expected to choose” or “must choose.” In that case, we do not agree with this statement. Each member country should retain the right to determine the composition of its delegations to UPU meetings.
4. Decision-making process within the POC
Up until today the POC has had a decision-making power as regards the standardisation and the modification of the General Regulations. The POC’s powers might be restricted to a power to make recommendations or they might be maintained as such or they might be extended.
Statement no 4
Do you agree with the following statement? “The decision-making powers of the POC should not be modified.”
U.S. reply: We do not agree with this statement as it is presented here. We believe that the decision-making powers of the POC should be studied in light of evolving postal and delivery markets and developments in the postal regulatory environment within member countries. It is not possible to know whether the results of this study would suggest that the decision-making powers of the POC should be altered or not.
Statement no 5
Do you agree with the following statement? “The POC’s powers regarding the standardisation and the modification of the General Regulations should be limited to a power to make recommendations instead of a power to make decisions.”
U.S. reply: The development and adoption of technical standards is a complex subject, and the issues raised by the question above require careful consideration. It would seem that many of the types of standards adopted by UPU – such as the barcodes used for the exchange of mail between postal operators – should remain the responsibility of the POC. Some standards, however, such as IMPC codes, are of interest to postal regulators and hence to the CA. This subject – assigning responsibility to the CA and POC for the adoption of standards – should be carefully studied.
Statement no 6
Do you agree with the following statement? “The POC’s powers regarding the standardisation and the modification of the General Regulations should remain a power to make decisions. The POC could be granted a more extended power to make decisions through a more thorough verification of the CA’s activities.”
U.S. reply: Regarding the first sentence above, please see our answer to Statement no 5 above. The second sentence is not clear.
5. Designation of the POC
Today the Union’s permanent body in charge of the postal services operations at the international level is called “Postal Operations Council”. During the “Bucharest-Geneva” round, reflections were made as regards a change of name into a name that would better correspond to its make-up and its competences.
Statement no 7
6. Election of the POC members
The procedure to elect the POC members is laid down in the General Regulations. The members are elected by the Congress. Several procedures can be considered as regards the election of the POC members: either maintaining the status quo, or having the members elected by the designated operators in conformity with a yet to be established procedure. In that case the Union would keep its intergovernmental nature because of the role the Member States play in the designation of the designated operator who can elect and can be elected.
Statement no 8
Which hypothesis do you agree with?
1. “The POC member election should be carried out in accordance with the current rules.
2. The POC member election could be performed in accordance with a new procedure that has yet to be determined. Members would be elected by other designated operators and not by the Member States.”
U.S. reply: We see no need to change the current procedures to elect members of the POC which are laid out in the General Regulations. It is important, however, that member countries understand these procedures as well as the role of the International Bureau, which must remain neutral in the election of members of both the POC and the CA.
Following the latest Congress the Union has taken its first steps towards regionalisation of its activities. The regionalisation process could be developed whilst still upholding its universal nature.
Statement no 9
Do you agree with the following statement? “Should a regionalisation policy be developed within the Union by:
praising differentiated policies in order to fulfil the specific local needs,
further integrating the Restricted Unions into the Union’s structure according to yet to be determined terms.”
U.S. reply: No. There is no need to change the current provisions, arrangements, and structure of the Restricted Unions in relation to the UPU.