EP accepts MEP Alex Agius Saliba’s request to investigate Maltese monopolies in food retail

Alex Agius Saliba

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 February, 2024 at 11:02 am by Andre Camilleri

The Petitions Committee within the European Parliament has approved a petition presented by Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba which calls on the European Commission to investigate whether the mechanisms of de-facto monopolies are leading to an artificially higher prices in the food retail sector in Malta.

Agius Saliba’s petition was approved by all groups in the European Parliament, the Labour Party said in a statement Thursday.

Agius Saliba embarked on the campaign to put pressure on European institutions after conducting a fact-finding mission in which he caught wind of abusive and potentially illegal practices by key players in the sector.

Food prices have risen significantly in recent years, the PL said in its statement.  Whilst the increase was driven by external shocks such as COVID, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and bottlenecks in the supply chain, the inflation seen in Malta goes beyond what was observed elsewhere.  The inflation rate of food prices amounted to 10% in Malta in December whereas the EU average amounted to 6%.

Malta’s geographic realities as a small island with a limited market share coupled with long-standing supply chains, practices and traditions make it ripe for the formation of de-facto monopolies.  The abuse of a dominant position to manipulate the market is a violation of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, also known as the Antitrust rules, and the European Commission is empowered to investigate violations and issue fines.

Agius Saliba hailed Parliament’s endorsement of his mission to ensure that key market players are held accountable and charted the way ahead.  The Labour MEP said: “Parliament’s decision is the first tangible step in this struggle.  I will continue following this matter, including in the forthcoming legislature, to ensure that the European Commission delivers on its mandate to work in the best interests of all Maltese consumers, not least the most vulnerable amongst us.  Food retail prices impact all consumers equally irrespective of their spending power.” 

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