Friday, 20th January 2016 – The Malta Business Bureau and the European Parliament Office today hosted a Stakeholders Dialogue on Geo-blocking within the Internal Market – a dossier which has been introduced by the European Commission in 2015 and is currently being tackled during the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The session contained a round-table discussion with key actors on the current dossier, including MEP Therese Comodini Cachia and Dr Greta Agius, Competitiveness Attaché, Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU.
Geo-blocking is a form of Internet censorship where access to content is restricted based upon the user’s geographical location. Often restrictions are justified, for example due to national rules to protect public order, for extra costs that are incurred by the providers/traders due to a fragmented Digital Single Market.
Mr Joe Tanti, MBB CEO, introduced the debate by highlighting the need to include Maltese stakeholders in discussions with decision-makers with a view to shaping European Union law, which needs to reflect the particular situations in the different Member States including Malta.
David Lorenzo, MBB Policy Advisor, analysed the content of the European Commission’s proposal and explained its inconsistencies and the process of decision-making affecting to this dossier.
Erwan Bertrand from Eurochambres expressed the concern of European Businesses as to the effectiveness of the Commission’s proposed measures in widening cross-border trade. Mr Bertrand points out that while Union legislation may try to prohibit certain commercial practices, a series of other limitations remain, including different technical requirements, language barriers and transport costs.
Various stakeholders representing Maltese businesses were also part of the round-table discussion. They highlighted the need to keep in mind the burden of new rules on small business. Additionally, consumer’s representatives pointed out that consumers in Malta encounter discrimination including blocking of access to websites and rerouting to other websites, calling for clearer rules in this regard.
The discussion featured also interventions by representatives from the Malta Chamber of Commerce, GRTU, Malta IT Law Association, GVZH Advocates, MEUSAC, the Malta Competition and Consumers Affairs Authority and the Malta Communications Authority.
Youtube Video of this event can be found on this link