Paris mayor and French MPs call for an Amazon-free Christmas

'Tis the season to be jolly and enact legislation to regulate global tech giants.

Paris mayor and French MPs call for an Amazon-free Christmas

As France braces for an unusual, pandemic-struck Noël, Amazon is looking more and more like the Grinch.

A petition backed by political and cultural figures, environmental organizations, and trade unions, titled “Noël Sans Amazon” (“Amazon-free Christmas”), is calling on consumers to “not buy any gifts” from Amazon for the upcoming holidays. It is addressed to none other than Santa Claus himself.

Signers include Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and her Green counterparts from Grenoble and Poitiers, Éric Piolle and Léonore Moncond’huy, as well as high-profile MPs like the partyless ecologist Matthieu Orphelin and François Ruffin from the leftist France Unbowed.

Greenpeace and many other environmental NGOs joined the petition. A shopkeepers’ confederation and a booksellers’ trade union are among the private sector signatories.

The diverse coalition is representative of the wide palette of grievances brought against Amazon in the country. The text cites concerns around unfair competition against closed local businesses during lockdown have only added to long-standing debates about the firm’s environmental impact or workers’ rights.

The return of a national lockdown has put Amazon on the defensive, and the American company is a daily topic in French media. Tensions have crystallized around Black Friday, a day primarily imported by Amazon in France. Businesses are asking to re-open in time for November 27, rather than the expected December 1.

Hidalgo herself called for a boycott of Amazon earlier this month. Piolle said on BFM TV while discussing the petition that “a French art of living is massively attacked by Amazon”. They and others stress alternatives such as purchasing from local businesses where possible, through “click and collect” for example.

The government has also encouraged buying locally and provided additional financial aid to businesses able to adapt their model or seeking help to digitally index their inventory. Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said “Amazon is gorging itself” in the current context, but some members remain less alarmist. The company’s share of e-commerce in France is of “20%, compared to 40% in Germany,” Digital Junior Minister Cédric O pointed out on Tuesday.

“What do we wish for under our Christmas tree?” the petition asks. “Laws” is the answer, before enumerating proposed regulations on competition, personal data, workers’ rights, and more.