By Nick MacLeanThe French government is preparing to ask Europe’s European Commission to take action against Uber and Grab amid the rise in fuel prices, with French Finance Minister Francois Fillon saying the move would be necessary if France was to meet its fuel-cost target.
A statement by Fillon on Monday said the commission had been in contact with the French authorities about the issue and that the government was considering the possibility of introducing a law that would make it an offence to hire an Uber or Grab car.
Fillon’s remarks came as France’s transport minister, Dominique de Villepin, told the Financial Times newspaper that the increase in petrol prices since 2016 had left a « moral and legal obligation » on the government to do something about the situation.
« We cannot continue to rely on the use of petrol, » De Villepintin told the French daily Le Figaro, adding that the cost of the fuel « is a major contributor » to the country’s fuel consumption.
« The government has a moral and legal responsibility to take the necessary measures to ensure that there are no more expensive forms of transport, such as those used by Uber and [Grab] to facilitate the transport of passengers. »
Fillon also noted that the new diesel prices were being imposed in the same way as petrol, meaning that the country was being hit with a new form of subsidy.
He said that the gas price increase was a « very serious matter », adding that « it’s a moral obligation that the French government must take action. »
Uber, Grab, GrabTaxi app is in the process of shutting down in France amid rising fuel costsThe Paris-based ride-hailing app Uber, which is based in Paris and was valued at $2.5bn at the end of 2017, has been forced to shut down in the country after the company said it would be forced to pay a 25 percent tax on its revenue.
France has been hit by an increase in fuel costs, with petrol prices doubling over the past two years.
Fillon said on Monday that the move was « absolutely necessary » to meet the government’s fuel-savings target, adding: « We need to find out how we can find a solution, but we cannot continue relying on the usage of petrol. »
The commission’s decision to impose a levy on Uber’s tax revenue has been met with widespread criticism in France, with the country being accused of acting against the interests of ordinary people and of making life difficult for small and medium-sized businesses.
The commission has been asked to clarify the details of its proposal and the measures taken to tackle the rise of petrol prices in France.