France considers moratorium on new e-commerce warehouses, says minister

FILE PHOTO: Barbara Pompili, French Minister for the Ecological Transition, speaks during the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s newly-appointed Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said on Thursday she would push to pause the development of warehouses used by online businesses such as Amazon, in a possible setback for the e-commerce giant.

Pompili, who was named to the position in a cabinet reshuffle by President Emmanuel Macron this month, said any moratorium on warehouse plans would be “for a few months” and aimed at fomenting a broader discussion about the retail sector.

“It is not a weapon against Amazon,” Pompili told France Inter radio.

Amazon has planned to open new warehouses in France in the short and medium term.

Pompili said the state wanted to protect small retail businesses and help them survive the expansion of major e-commerce rivals. She said the initiative has been discussed with other ministers but the government had yet to take concrete steps.

She said a moratorium would allow for the commissioning of a parliamentary report to probe the impact on jobs and local areas linked to warehouse plans.

Amazon ran into trouble in France during the coronavirus crisis after a dispute with unions over safety measures, which forced it to close its six warehouses for several weeks, curtailing and delaying some deliveries.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Matthieu Protard, Editing by Sarah White