Uber files: Macron defends dealings with company after leak


PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday defended his interactions with Uber, responding to a slew of company documents showing that he sometimes surprised even executives with the extent of his support when he was economy minister as they tried to work their way into Europe markets.

The documents dominated part of the debate in the French parliament on Tuesday, amid calls for an investigation and criticism that Macron had made Uber’s bid at the expense of workers’ rights and against the will of the left-wing government he had at the time. served.

“I am very proud of what I have done,” Macron told reporters during a visit to the southeastern French region of Isere.

The president, who appeared visibly emotional, ignored several aides’ attempts to move when he made his first public comment since the Uber documents were published on Sunday by Le Monde, The Washington Post and other outlets.

When Uber poured into France, Emmanuel Macron was a ‘true ally’

“I saw foreign business leaders – horror!” he said sarcastically. “If they’ve created jobs in France, I’m super proud of that. And you know what? I would do it again tomorrow and the day after.”

“We have to fight to ensure that young people from difficult backgrounds get a job,” he said.

Some opposition members have described the Uber documents as an impending “state scandal” and possible evidence of a “conspiracy of interests.”

Macron lost his absolute majority in the parliamentary elections last month, putting him under more scrutiny than in his first term, and under political pressure from his emboldened far-left and far-right opponents.

“Essentially, your project is [to create] Uber’s society of a worker without rights. It is a collective social suicide,” Danielle Simonnet, a left-wing MP, told the government in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The Uber files, containing internal messages from executives from 2013 to 2017, were leaked by former Uber lobbyist Mark MacGann to the British newspaper Guardian, which were shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a DC-based nonprofit editorial board and dozens other news organizations worldwide.

Macron had made no secret of his general support for Uber when he was economy minister. Asked for comment ahead of the publication of the documents, the French presidency said in a statement to The Post and other media that the “economic and employment policies of the time, in which [Macron] was an active participant, well known” and that his “functions naturally led him to meet and interact with many companies”.

But the Uber records show that its support went further than previously known. According to the documents, Uber executives and lobbyists believed he was willing to defend them by encouraging regulators to be “less conservative” in their interpretation of rules restricting the company’s operations and by trying to relax rules that restrict the company’s operations. hindered the company’s expansion in France.

Macron’s allies seemed ready this week to defend his interactions with the company. Budget Minister Gabriel Attal called the outrage on Tuesday exaggerated. “As usual, we make a ton of foam with a gram of soap,” he said on BFM TV. “I don’t even see a problem.”

But the files could raise uncomfortable questions for Macron and his supporters.

Uber sought ‘strategic investors’ in foreign media to win government favor

Although the documents end in 2017, the year Macron was elected president, they are directly related to how he has tried to carry out his agenda since then.

Macron, who was re-elected in April, has tried to liberalize the French economy. According to his critics, that has left anyone concerned about the social impact of his movements being rolled with steam.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has regularly complained about the “uberization” of French society, an umbrella term used to describe taxi services and home delivery services, and lashed out at Macron’s support for an industry he believes has been undermined. rights of the employee. Mélenchon is now the public face of the largest opposition bloc in the House of Representatives, where a possible investigation is said to take place.

Members and allies of Mélenchon’s party, France Unbowed, were among the most outspoken critics this week.

Macron’s “fight is not in support of young people ‘from difficult backgrounds’,” Mathilde Panot, the alliance’s leader in parliament, wrote on Twitter. Instead, Macron’s contacts with Uber were in support of “CEOs gorging themselves unmolested on the backs of self-employed and unprotected drivers,” Panot wrote.

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