Agius Saliba asks European Commission to investigate Maltese telecom operators

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba is asking Brussels to investigate Maltese telecom operators over their decision to charge consumers a fee if they do not have a direct debit facility

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba

Alex Agius Saliba has asked the European Commission to investigate the practice of Malta’s telecommunications companies to charge clients without a direct debit facility a fee.

The Labour MEP said the new charge ranging between €1 and €2 goes against the European Union’s Payment Services Directive and is “seriously distorting competition in the market”.

GO, Melita and Epic introduced the charge recently for clients who will continue paying their bills in cash without a direct debit facility. The companies informed customers that if they disagreed with the price increase, they could withdraw from their contract.

“The new charge, introduced simultaneously by all telecommunication companies, is seriously distorting competition in the market, goes against the European Union’s Payment Services Directive (PSD2), and increases the digital divide and discrimination against consumers without or with limited digital access or debit facilities,” Agius Saliba said, adding the practice will penalise the most vulnerable consumers.

Agius Saliba said telecommunication services have become crucial to society and the wider economy, a precondition and basis for economic and social development, participation in public life, and social and territorial cohesion. “For this reason, people must have access to such vital services,” he said.

Agius Saliba asked the European Commission to investigate if the new charge introduced by all the telecommunication companies in collusion, amounts to illegal price-fixing, distorts competition law, violates the Payment Services Directive (PSD2), and harms consumers' rights.

The MEP asked the European Commission to say what actions it intends to take in order to ensure that consumers' rights are safeguarded, and that they continue having competitive, transparent, and non-discriminatory access to essential telecommunication services.

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