Uber leak: French parliament discusses Macron’s dealings

Allies of French President Emmanuel Macron prepared, on Tuesday, for a confrontation with the opposition in Parliament, amid public anger over a set of documents detailing the close links between Uber and Macron during his tenure as Minister of Economy.

The disclosure of this information has led to growing calls for a parliamentary investigation, with some opposition members describing the content of the documents as an imminent “state scandal” and possible evidence of “collusion of interests”.

The accusations were expected to dominate at least partly the first parliamentary question session since last month’s election, scheduled to begin mid-afternoon local time. Macron has lost his absolute majority, leaving him subject to more scrutiny than in his first term, and under political pressure from his brave opponents from the far left and the far right.

As Uber approaches France, Emmanuel Macron has been a ‘true ally’

“The president – or anyone who wants to become one – can’t be a corporate lobbyist,” Alexis Corbier, deputy chair of the main far-left party’s parliamentary group, said Monday. He and others have proposed a special investigation beyond expected debates in the French National Assembly on Tuesday and in the Senate on Wednesday.

The opposition’s criticisms are based on internal messages to Uber executives from 2013 to 2017, which were revealed by Le Monde, the Washington Post and other outlets on Sunday, that suggested Macron’s support for the company far exceeded what was known to the public – and at times. It went against the policies of the left-leaning government he served at the time.

The documents are part of the Uber Files, a collection of more than 124,000 internal records obtained by The Guardian and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a DC-based nonprofit newsroom, and dozens of other news organizations around the world.

On Monday, Uber lobbyist Mark McGahn publicly identified himself as the source of the files. The Post and other project partners previously agreed to keep his identity confidential.

According to the filings, Uber managers and lobbyists believe Macron was willing to support them by pushing regulators to be “less conservative” in their interpretation of rules limiting the company’s operations and trying to relax rules that have hampered the company’s expansion in France. Internal communications sometimes appear, even Uber was surprised at how supportive it was.

In response to a request for comment before the documents were published, the French presidency said in a statement to the newspaper “The Post” and other outlets that “the economic and employment policies at that time, which [Macron] He was an active participant, well known” and “his jobs naturally led him to meet and interact with several companies.” In response to a request for additional comment after publication, the Lycée on Monday referred reporters to its earlier statement.

Macron’s allies appeared ready this week to defend his dealings with the company. Budget Minister Gabriel Attal described the anger as exaggerated 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 files may raise uncomfortable questions for Macron and his supporters in parliament.

Uber has sought “strategic investors” in foreign media to win government support

Although the documents expired in 2017, the year Macron was elected president, they are directly related to the way he has attempted to implement his agenda since then.

Macron, who was re-elected in April, has sought to liberalize the French economy — and according to his critics, that has involved provoking anyone who raises concerns about the social impact of his moves.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has regularly complained about French society’s “bloating”, an umbrella term used to describe pick-up and home delivery services, and criticized Macron’s support for a sector he sees as undermining workers’ rights. Mélenchon is now the public face of the largest opposition bloc in the lower house of parliament, where a possible investigation is expected.

Members and allies of Mlenchon’s France Unboyed party were among the most vocal critics this week.

Mathilde Bannot, the leader of the coalition in Parliament, noted that Macron helped Uber “plunder the country” and criticized the president for acting as “a lobbyist for an American multinational that aims to permanently liberalize labor law.”

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