Funilly enough, Royal Mail in the UK has recently moved over to a German style system becasue of the simple fact that non-standardised sizes cost more to process.
The liberalisation issue was in the SZ this week. There is a European row going on at the minute on postal liberalisation. Germany already has the laws in place and is posed to open the market from I think 2008 or 2009. However, France and Poland are blocking liberalisation to protect their own postal monopolies.
In France's case it is to do with the fact that liberalisation would come at the same time as the preseidential elections and La Poste is one of the largest single employers. The cover story being used though is that liberalisation of the market of letters under 50g would exclude a large number of people from postal services as I think
the liberalisation does not oblige any postal provider to guarantee to delivery any letter to any adress for a fixed fee.
Edit: As the law stands now, the Germn market will be openend from 2008/2009 but Deutsche Post
won't be able to operate elsewhere, which can't be right.