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Malta scores top marks in EU consumer markets index

Malta ranks as one of the top three EU28 countries in eight goods and 13 services markets, data just released by the European Commission shows.

The data features in the 2016 Consumer Markets Scoreboard, which monitors EU consumers’ ratings of how 42 goods and services markets work.

The ratings show that markets’ performance has improved since the last scoreboard in 2014. The positive trend observed since 2010 is speeding up, with financial services showing the biggest progress.

Consumers’ top three goods markets are books, magazines and newspapers, the market for entertainment goods (such as toys and games) and large household appliances, like fridges.

In the case of services, consumers’ three top-ranking markets are leisure-related, ranging from holiday accommodation to cultural and entertainment services and sport services, such as gyms.

“We can see from this year’s Scoreboard that consumer-friendly rules, market reforms, as well as effective enforcement of consumer rules, have made consumers more confident in the markets”, Vera Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said. “We must keep this encouraging trend going, especially for markets that still underperform, like telecoms and energy. That’s why consumers are at the heart of the Commission’s priority projects.”

Overall, the average market performance indicator score for Malta is 84.2, that is, 4.4 points above the EU28 average.

The goods markets score stands at 86.0 and the services markets 83.3, above the EU28 average by 3.6 and 4.8 points respectively.

The overall market performance indicator score grew by 2.5 points since 2013. It was up by 3.8 points in the case of the goods markets and 1.8 points with regard to the services markets.

The top goods markets on the island are ‘meat and meat products’, ‘non-prescription medicines’ and ‘fruit and vegetables’. The bottom three are ‘second-hand cars’, ‘entertainment goods’ and ‘fuel for vehicles’.

The services markets average proportion of complaints decreased

Of the 13 goods markets, 11 have improved since 2013. The markets for ‘meat and meat products’, ‘fruit and vegetables’ (both +6.8), and ‘bread, cereals, rice and pasta’ (+6.0) had the highest increase since 2013 and only the ‘second-hand cars’ market decreased in score (-2.9).

The data shows that all goods markets in Malta perform better than the EU28 average, with the exception of the ‘books, magazines and newspapers’ and ‘entertainment goods’ markets, which are in line with the EU28 results.

The best performers compared to the EU average are the markets for ‘meat and meat products’ (+7.1), ‘fruit and vegetables’ (+5.8), and ‘second-hand cars’ (+5.2).

Almost every goods market increased in the comparability, trust and expectations components since 2013, with the ‘second-hand cars’ market the main exception to this positive picture.

The goods markets average proportion of complaints remained stable.

The top three services markets in Malta are ‘holiday accommodation’, ‘airline services’ and ‘packaged holidays and tours’ while those at the bottom are ‘tram, local bus, metro and underground services’, ‘TV-subscriptions’ and ‘internet provision’. Of course, there are no tram, Metro and underground services in Malta.

Of the 27 services markets gauged in Malta, 11 improved since 2013. The ‘electricity services’ (+6.1) and ‘online gambling and lottery services’ (+5.7) markets fared the best, followed by ‘bank accounts’ (+4.0).

Most services markets in this island perform above the EU28 average, with the ‘mortgages’ (+9.2) and ‘real estate services’ (+9.1) markets posting the highest scores in relation to the EU average.

The services markets average comparability, trust and expectations scores increased since 2013. The services markets average proportion of complaints decreased, although the ‘online gambling and lottery services’ and the ‘electricity services’ markets have increased proportions of complaints. The proportion of problems increased both overall and across most services markets.

Key ‘components’

Relevant national markets are assessed in terms of key ‘components’ that contribute to their performance, namely:

1) Comparability – the ease/difficulty of comparing goods or services on offer.

2) Trust – the extent to which consumers trust that retailers/suppliers comply with consumer protection rules.

3) Expectations – consumer satisfaction, the extent to which market lives up to what consumers expect.

4) Choice – consumers’ satisfaction with the number of retailers/suppliers.

5) Overall detriment – proportion of consumers who experienced problems in the market and the degree to which those problems cause detriment (including, but not limited to financial loss) to the consumers.

6) Complaints – consumers’ propensity to complain in particular to the seller/provider and/or a third party as a result of the problems experienced.

7) Switching – switching of tariffs/providers, together with an assessment of the ease of switching and reasons for not switching.

The first five indicators are applicable to all the markets and form the market performance indicator, a composite index serving as the basis for the main ranking of the markets and ranging from zero to 100.

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