‘A state scandal’: Calls for investigation into Macron’s ties to Uber lobby | Uber


Emmanuel Macron faces calls for a parliamentary inquiry after Uber files exposed his extraordinary efforts as French economy minister under his predecessor as president, François Hollande, to help the US taxi company lobby against the taxi industry. with closed shops.

French opposition politicians from the left and the far right took advantage of reports of secret, undeclared meetings and the promise of a “deal” brokered by Macron within the government to help Uber.

The revelations in the Uber files — a cache of 124,000 company documents leaked to the Guardian and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists — come at a difficult time for Macron’s centrists, who lost control of parliament in last year’s parliamentary elections. month.

Several figures from the left to the far right, as well as the leader of the left-wing trade union CGT, called for a parliamentary inquiry.

The files suggest that pro-business Macron, who was re-elected French president in April, was close enough to Uber’s executives during his two years at the Ministry of Economy from 2014 to 2016 that they didn’t think twice about getting in touch. to contact him for possible assistance when their premises were raided by tax and other authorities.

Macron, who pledged to turn France into a “startup nation” in his first successful presidential campaign, failed to record at least three of the four meetings with Uber’s chief executive and founder, Travis Kalanick, held in the files were described.

While serving as economy minister, the former banker told the tech company he had struck a secret “deal” with a bitterly divided socialist cabinet, then in power.

Question and answer

What are the Uber files?

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The Uber files are a global investigation based on a trove of 124,000 documents leaked to the Guardian by Mark MacGann, Uber’s former chief lobbyist in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The data consists of emails, iMessages and WhatsApp exchanges between the Silicon Valley giant’s top executives, as well as memos, presentations, notebooks, briefing papers and invoices.

The leaked data spans 40 countries and spans 2013 to 2017, the period when Uber expanded aggressively around the world. They reveal how the company has broken the law, duped police and regulators, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments around the world.

To facilitate a global investigation in the public interest, The Guardian shared the data with 180 journalists in 29 countries through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation was led and directed by the Guardian with the ICIJ.

In a statement, Uber said: “We have and will not apologize for past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our current values. Instead, we are asking the public to judge us on what we have done over the past five years. . and what we will do in the coming years.”

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Aurélien Taché, a MP who was elected to Macron’s party in 2017 but was re-elected this year as part of the left-wing opposition Nupes coalition, told France Info radio: “It’s almost like a bad thriller – meetings and encounters that were hidden.. He said the fact that the company asked Macron for advice during a raid on their offices should be investigated by government inspectors. “It is a state scandal,” he said.

Alain Vidalies, who was the socialist transport secretary at the time Uber tried to establish itself in France, told France Info that he was “stunned” by the extent of Macron’s support for Uber lobbying, in particular that Macron had participated in “quasi “secret” meetings with the company, which he called a kind of “complicity”, saying the French people were entitled to “a response and clarification” from the executive.

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Mathilde Panot, the parliamentary leader of the far-left opposition party France Unbowed, denounced what she described as the “looting of the country” during Macron’s time as economy minister. She described Macron as a “lobbyist” for an “American multinational that aims to permanently deregulate labor law”.

In a parliament session on Monday afternoon, Panot referred to the Uber files as she presented her party’s vote of no confidence in the prime minister, Élisabeth Borne. Panot concluded by asking lawmakers if they agreed with Macron, whom she called “the president of lobbyists” in support of Uber.

Fabien Roussel, leader of the French Communist Party, described the revelations, detailed in Le Monde, as devastating: “Against all our rules, all our social laws and against workers’ rights.”

Members of the lower house of the French parliament accepted that there was no constitutional mechanism to directly question Macron about the contents of the Uber files, but opposition parties argued that it was important for parliamentary committees to find a way to investigate.

The head of the left-wing trade union CGT, Philippe Martinez, said: “The minimum is that” [Macron] explains what he did and how he not only helped Uber establish itself in France but, thanks to a law dubbed the “Macron Act,” helped lift part of the labor law in favor of this kind of economic activity with social consequences on workers.”

However, Laurent Berger, head of the moderate CFDT union, said it was no surprise to learn to what extent Uber had a “lobbying mentality” to “deregulate, to make money by taking so little account of what’s going on in the field.” of the law.” in different countries, and especially in the area of ​​workers’ rights”.

Jordan Bardella, of the far-right National Rally party, said the revelations showed Macron’s career had “a common thread: serving private interests, often foreign, before national interests”.

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The president’s office told AFP that at the time, as economy minister, Macron had “naturally” been in contact with “many companies involved in the profound change in services that has occurred over the said years, which should be facilitated by certain administrative or regulatory locks”.

It was no secret that Macron was enthusiastic about American tech companies, whom he saw as outsiders and innovators. He once told Mediapart that banning Uber would be tantamount to sending unemployed youth out of obscurity suburbs “there to sell drugs”.

But his close connection to the taxi company has never been fully revealed. Macron showed a “clear desire to work around the” [new] Thévenoud legislation,” according to Uber’s note of a meeting with the young economy minister about a law that radically limited the role of taxi services.

Macron’s support was crucial for Uber, as it encountered street protests by French taxi drivers, who must undergo 300 hours of training and be given a limited number of expensive taxi permits.

Aurore Bergé, the parliamentary leader of Macron’s centrist party, said Macron was just doing his job and doing it right. She told CNews that Uber had created a service the French wanted and that Macron had rightly facilitated the arrival of companies that created jobs. Charged with a secret deal, she said, “There was no deal, there was no consideration.”

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