Labour MEP has asked Brussels to investigate new charges being applied by Maltese telecommunications companies over possible illegal price-fixing. 

In a statement Friday, Agius Saliba said local telecoms companies have imposed a new charge between €1 and €2 for clients who will continue paying their bills in cash without a direct debit facility. 

Customers, he said, had been told that if they disagree with the price increase, they can withdraw from their contracts. 

Earlier this month, the government said it had referred GO, Epic and Melita to the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority for investigation. 

The three telecoms firms are suspected of raising prices for clients who do not pay their bills by direct debit. 

The tariff is meant to come into force in July.   

Meanwhile, Agius Saliba said the matter should be looked into at EU level. 

“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.

He said that the charges will penalise the most vulnerable consumers in Malta, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and young people, leaving them without healthy competitive alternatives or choices. 

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

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