Amazon Facing France Ban On Free Deliveries
France is on course to approve a law that will prevent online book retailers, including Amazon, offering free deliveries of discounted books.
The legislation, designed to support small bookstores struggling in the face of competition from the internet, was backed unanimously in the lower house National Assembly.
It seeks to restrict online and postal-delivery firms from combining free delivery with discounts of up to 5% on books, the maximum allowed under existing French legislation.
In 1981, the government ruled that editors must set a unique selling price for their books in a bid to protect small retailers, but added that stores could apply a discount of up to 5%.
The bill will now move to the upper house Senate for consideration.
While the measure is not specifically aimed at Amazon, Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti has singled out the US firm's practices in the past, blasting both free deliveries and the firm's tax arrangements, which are also under scrutiny in Britain.
"Any measure aimed at raising the price of books will only reduce French people's spending power and introduce discrimination against online consumers," the company said in a statement in response to the vote.
The online retailer reports its European sales through a Luxembourg-based holding company, taking advantage of the Duchy's relatively low corporation tax rates for earnings outside its borders.
Amazon insists the arrangement, which has been criticised by politicians across Europe, is legal under the European Union's single market rules.
During the parliamentary debate preceding Thursday's vote, Ms Filippetti accused Amazon of having a "dumping strategy" and selling books at a loss.
She said: "Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up."
The French government has recently been at loggerheads with a number of American companies including Google, Yahoo! and Apple.
Just last week, the country's data protection watchdog announced it would take action against Google for failing to comply with national privacy guidelines - a process that could see the company fined.