Known by its French acronym, CEPT was created in 1959 by 19 countries within the Universal Postal Union (founded 1874) as the coordinating body for state-owned postal and telecommunications monopolies in Europe. It provided a forum for cooperation on both commercial and regulatory questions, including tariffs, and operational, technical and standardisation issues. Soon after its foundation, CEPT launched an initiative whereby some or all member states issued a special ‘Europa’ postage stamp each year, as a means of encouraging a common sense of European identity. Until 1973, all versions of each year’s stamp carried a common logo and design.
In 1988, CEPT’s work on technical standardisation in telecommunications was transferred to a new specialist body which it established – the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). Following the end of the Cold War, CEPT’s membership expanded to include the countries of central and eastern Europe: it now encompasses 48 states. In accordance with European Union policy of separating operations from regulation and policy-making in the postal and telecommunications sectors, CEPT now focuses only on the latter issues. Its members are defined in the CEPT Agreement as ‘bodies that are responsible at national level for policy, decisions and public regulation in the field of posts and electronic communications’. The operators in each sector have created their own Europe-wide bodies, Post Europe and ETNO respectively. CEPT coordinates the European positions in the Universal Postal Union and the International Telecommunication Union. It operates through an assembly, which meets at least twice a year, and two main committees – for electronic communications (ECC) and postal regulation (CERP) – each with several working groups. In 2001, the CEPT assembly decided to create an annual rotating presidency, which also provides the secretariat of the organization.
Copyright: Anthony Teasdale, 2012
Citation: The Penguin Companion to European Union (2012), additional website entry