Uber files: Macron defends his relations with the company after a leak

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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday defended his interactions with Uber, responding to a trove of corporate documents that reveal he sometimes even surprised executives with the extent of his support when he was minister of public affairs. Economy and that they were trying to make 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 the Uber bid at the expense of workers’ rights and against the will of the leftist government. he was serving at the time.

“I am very proud of what I have done”, Macron told reporters during a visit to Isère, in the south-east of France.

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

While Uber established itself in France, Emmanuel Macron was a “true ally”

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

Some opposition members have described the Uber documents as a looming “state scandal” and potential evidence of a “collusion of interests”.

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

“In essence, your project is [to create] The Uber society of a worker without rights. It is a collective social suicide, “said Danielle Simonnet, left-wing deputy, on Tuesday before the government in the National Assembly.

The Uber files, containing executives’ internal messages from 2013 to 2017, were leaked by former Uber lobbyist Mark MacGann to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a newsroom nonprofit based in DC and dozens of other news outlets. worldwide.

Macron had made no secret of his general support for Uber when he was economy minister. Asked before the documents were released, 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, are well known” and that his “duties naturally led him to meet and interact with many companies”.

But Uber’s records show its support went further than expected. According to the documents, Uber executives and lobbyists believed it was prepared to defend them by pushing regulators to be “less conservative” in their interpretation of the rules limiting the company’s operations and attempting to loosen the rules. which hindered the expansion of the company in France.

Macron’s allies seemed ready this week to defend his interactions with the company. Budget Minister Gabriel Attal called the outrage overdone on Tuesday. “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 records could raise uncomfortable questions for Macron and his supporters.

Uber has sought out ‘strategic investors’ from foreign media to curry favor with the government

Although the documents end in 2017, the year Macron was elected president, they relate directly to how he has attempted to implement his agenda since.

Macron, who won re-election in April, has sought to liberalize the French economy – and, according to his critics, that has involved stifling anyone worried about the social impact of his measures.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has regularly complained about the “uberization” of French society, an umbrella term used to describe carpooling and home delivery services, and he denounced Macron’s support to a sector that he sees as having undermined workers’ rights. Mélenchon is now the public face of the largest opposition bloc in the lower house of parliament, where the possible investigation is expected to take place.

Members and allies of Mélenchon’s party, France Unbowed, have been among the most vocal critics this week.

Mathilde Panot, leader of the alliance in Parliament, suggested that Macron had helped Uber to “loot the country” and blamed the president for having acted as “a lobbyist for an American multinational aimed at permanently deregulating the labor law “.

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