Paris vows to fight Amazon Prime Now service

The mayor of Paris has promised to be “intransigent vis-a-vis Amazon” after the US retail company launched its same-day delivery service, Prime Now, in the French capital with less than a week’s notice.

In a statement released on Sunday the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said: “While this operation is likely to seriously destabilise the balance of Parisian trade, this large American company saw fit to inform the City of Paris just days before its launch.”

She said Paris would fight Amazon on a number of fronts, including “the preservation of local shops, the quality of life of local residents, the level of pollution generated by vehicles, and Amazon’s human resources policy”.

Hidalgo also called on national legislators to establish laws aimed at preventing “unfair competition” against traders and craftsmen, mirroring current legislation that lets city mayors regulate supermarkets.

Olivia Polski, who represents trade in the Paris local government, told Politico Europe: “When an actor like Amazon shows up, that does not play by the same rules as everyone else, it messes up the playing field and creates a situation of unfair competition.

“We’re not opposed to innovation; we just don’t think it’s fair that Amazon does not have to pay the same social charges as regular businesses. What Amazon is doing is entirely new, and is not covered by our current legislation on competition, so yes, it makes sense to think of new rules.”

Paris has been particularly combative against US tech firms seeking to launch in the city, with Uber and Airbnb also facing pressure from the local government. Airbnb has seen one of the most restrictive regulatory climates of any city it operates in, with Hidalgo’s government ensuring that illegal renters are fined, and landlords required to pay tourist taxes. Uber has seen heightened scrutiny, leading eventually to an €800,000 fine this month, but also a strong grassroots opposition from the local taxi firms, which staged major protests last summer.

But Amazon shows no signs of bending to Paris’s will. The retailer has expanded Prime Now rapidly from its first European launch in London a year ago, and when it comes to regulation, it treats the service identically to its wider mail-order business. Despite the local focus, Prime Now’s Paris operation doesn’t count as a Parisian retail operation, and so Amazon only told the government four days before it launched.

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