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French opposition denounces Uber-Macron ‘secret deal’

Opposition deputies on Sunday denounced reports of a secret deal between French President Emmanuel Macron — when he was a minister under a socialist government — and online transport giant Uber.

The allegations come in the latest data-based investigation by leading international news outlets based on leaked files, announced on social media as #UberFiles.

The report in France’s Le Monde daily, citing documents, text messages and witnesses, alleges that Uber came to a secret “deal” with Macron when he was economy minister between 2014 and 2016.

Le Monde’s report highlights what it says was help from Macron’s ministry intended to help Uber consolidate its position in France, such as suggesting that the company present “ready-made” amendments to deputies to help their case.

Opposition deputies have denounced what they say appears to have been close collaboration between Macron and Uber at a time when the company was trying to get around tight government regulation of their sector.

Contacted by AFP, Uber France confirmed that the two sides had been in contact. The meetings with Macron had been in the normal course of his ministerial duties, which covered the private-hire sector.

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

But Mathilde Panot, parliamentary leader of the hard-left opposition France Unbowed party, denounced on Twitter what she described as the “pillage of the country” during Macron’s time as minister under president Francois Hollande.

She described Macron as a “lobbyist” for a “US multinational aiming to permanently deregulate labour law”.

– ‘Against all our rules’ –

Communist Party leader Fabien Roussel described Le Monde’s story as “damning revelations about the active role played by Emmanuel Macron, then minister, to facilitate the development of Uber in France.

“Against all our rules, all our social rights and against workers’ rights,” he posted on Twitter.

Communist deputy Pierre Dharreville called for a parliamentary inquiry into the affair.

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

The Uber Files investigation is based on a leak of tens of thousands of documents to Britain’s Guardian newspaper from an anonymous source, and has been coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The ICIJ is working with 42 media partners around the world on the story.