The Finnish parliament on Wednesday morning approved the liberalisation of the national postal service.

Finnish parliament voted 108 to 72 in favour of allowing competition for the national postal service. The law will come into effect next fall. The decision is a logical consequence of the European Union’s requirement that the Member States open their postal markets to free market forces.

As in the Netherlands and Belgium, there is also the threat of extensive action by postal workers in Finland. On Friday, a small group of 30 postmen in the capital Helsinki stopped all work. The largest trade union (PAU) said on Sunday that more protests are coming. A spokesman said on Wednesday that postal workers will stop work and take to the streets. It is not known when the actions will start.

Opponents of the new law warn against the impoverishment of mail delivery, including by closing post offices in smaller villages. Experts cite a large chain of smaller kiosks as a possible first, native competitor. Nothing is known yet about interest from foreign companies.

Due to the Finnish decision, the only Scandinavian postal service still a state monopoly is the one of Norway, which is not an EU member. Sweden already opened up for delivery of letters in 1993. Only in recent years the country’s Posten lost about 90 percent market share here, according to observers.

The Swedish and Danish national postal services merged in 2009 to form Posten Norden (later PostNord, owned: 60% Swedish state, 40% Danish state), which, by agreement between the two countries, is to become a publicly traded company on a date to be determined. But there is growing resistance in the Swedish parliament against government plans to privatize state services such as telecom company Telia Sonera and energy company Vattenfall. Vattenfall is the parent company of the Dutch Nuon. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original in Dutch, 9 March 2011)