Uber leak: Macron defends dealings with company as inquiry looms

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron defended his interactions with Uber during his time as economy minister, seeking to counter mounting criticism that has prompted calls for an inquiry and took a center stage in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday.

“I’m very proud of what I’ve done,” Macron told reporters, speaking during a visit to the southeastern French region of Isère.

Macron, who appeared to be visibly emotional, ignored several attempts from aides to get moving as he defended himself against accusations that he unjustifiably supported the controversial company against the will of the left-leaning government he served at the time.

“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.”

Macron’s comments came amid public outrage over a trove of documents detailing close links between him and Uber during his time as economy minister, which some members of the opposition have described as a looming “state scandal” and potential evidence of a “collusion of interests.”

The accusations on Tuesday partly dominated the first parliamentary question session since elections last month. Macron lost his absolute majority, leaving him exposed to substantially more scrutiny than in his first term, and under political pressure from his emboldened far-left and far-right opponents.

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

As Uber steamrolled into France, Emmanuel Macron was a ‘true ally’

The opposition’s criticism is based on Uber executives’ internal messages from 2013 to 2017, revealed by Le Monde, The Washington Post and other outlets on Sunday, which suggest that Macron’s backing for the company went far beyond what had been known publicly — and on occasion conflicted with the policies of the left-leaning government he served at the time.

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

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

According to the files, Uber managers and lobbyists believed that Macron was willing to support them by pushing regulators to be “less conservative” in their interpretation of rules limiting the company’s operations and by attempting to ease rules that hampered the company’s expansion in France. At times, even Uber was surprised by the extent of his backing, internal communications show.

Macron’s allies appeared ready this week to defend his interactions with the company. Budget Minister Gabriel Attal portrayed the outrage as…

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